Mayor Greg Fischer in March 2017 called on developers to submit proposals for how they wanted to redevelop the 24-acre vacant lot of Heritage West. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

The original post has been changed to reflect that Lizabeth Calenberg is a resident of German Paristown.

Following a ruling from the Kentucky attorney general’s office, Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government has released the names of the individuals who evaluated and made final recommendations to the city regarding who should be allowed to develop multimillion-dollar projects on two city-owned properties, Heritage West in Russell and the Urban Government Center in Paristown Pointe.

The evaluation panels for both sites included four residents and five city employees. Ultimately, the social services organization Louisville Urban League was chosen to develop a $30 million indoor track and field athletic facility at the 24-acre Heritage West, and for-profit development company The Marian Group was picked to develop a mixed-use project that includes housing, a hotel and commercial space, along other things, at the 12-acre Urban Government Center.

The panel for the Heritage West site included:

  • Bonnie Cole, president of the Shawnee Neighborhood Association
  • Bill Gatewood, executive director of the Metro Housing Resource Center
  • Vanessa Lackey, president of the Westover Neighborhood Association
  • Gary Watrous, secretary of neighborhood association Portland NOW Inc.
  • Jeana Dunlap, director of redevelopment strategies for Louisville Forward
  • Laura Grabowski, director of the Vacant and Public Property Administration for Develop Louisville
  • Scott Herrmann, director of economic development for Louisville Forward
  • Aaron Jackson, director of finance for Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government
  • Allison Smith, brownfields program manager for Develop Louisville

The panel for the Urban Government Center site included:

  • Lizabeth Calenberg, a resident of German Paristown
  • Mary Hardesty, secretary of the German Paristown Neighborhood Association
  • Debbie Hoblitzell, a resident of Paristown Pointe
  • Chuck Woodall, president of the Original Highlands Neighborhood Association
  • Deborah Bilitski, former director of Develop Louisville
  • Gabe Fritz, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development
  • Daniel Frockt, CFO for Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government
  • Gretchen Milliken, director of Advanced Planning
  • Allison Smith, brownfields program manager for Develop Louisville

The city released the names after Assistant Attorney General Matt James ruled this week that Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government violated the state open meetings act when the panel made up of previously unidentified members hosted closed-door meetings to evaluating proposals for the Heritage West site; he ruled that the panel was a public agency. The ruling came after WDRB News asked Attorney General Andy Beshear to decide whether the panel is a public body and should have held public meetings.

“Louisville Metro Government believes in transparency, and we have said from the start that we would release the evaluation panel names. Today we are releasing the names of the community and Metro Government employees who sat on the evaluation panels for the Heritage West and the Urban Government Center projects,” said Jessica Wethington, spokeswoman for Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development arm that was leading the effort to find developers for the two sites.

“As stated in the Solicitations of Interest and other public documents, these evaluation panels made recommendations to Louisville Metro Government for subsequent consideration and decision making by Metro leaders,” Wehtington continued. “The City, in conjunction with the County Attorney’s office, is evaluating the remainder of the opinion and will address future aspects of the opinion as necessary.”

The city also have declined to release evaluation sheets by which the different development proposals were rated, and it is unclear if those will be released as a result of James’ decision.

Residents have expressed mixed emotions about the city’s decision to negotiate with The Marian Group regarding development of the Urban Government Center. The negotiations talks have remained private, and it is unclear when the city and The Marian Group will reach a final agreement.

The city has not signed a final agreement with the Louisville Urban League related the Heritage West site either.

The process surrounding the prospective development of both sites is new for the city. Rather than having developers come to the city, the city asked developers to submit their proposed plans for how to develop the two sites. The city made the proposals public and hosted public input sessions for residents to weigh in on what they liked and didn’t like about the various developers’ proposals.

After that, the evaluation panels were formed to take a deeper look at each proposals and make a final recommendation to the city.

Kentucky Attorney General opinion on Heritage West panel by insiderlouisville on Scribd

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]