The silver on top of several of the buildings are proposed solar panels. | Courtesy of The Marian Group

This story has been updated.

Louisville Metro Government has signed a preliminary deal with The Marian Group, a family-run development company out of Louisville, to redevelop the 12-acre Urban Government Center, located on Barret Avenue near Broadway.

When reached by phone, The Marian Group principal Justin Brown said:  “We are very happy. We are very excited to be getting this thing going. We think our proposal was the most comprehensive: mixed-use, mixed-income, intergenerational.”

City officials are working with The Marian Group to delve further into details about financing, including possible government incentives, and phasing for the project, as well as looking at the possibility of the city leasing the property at a low rate to The Marian Group. Theresa Zawacki, senior policy adviser for Louisville Forward, said they hope to finalize an agreement in the next 45 days.

The Marian Group was chosen by an evaluation committee that considered the feasibility of the project and its alignment with seven ideals in Vision Louisville: sustainability, economy, livability, connectivity, creativity, health and authenticity. Louisville Forward declined to identify the members of the panel Wednesday afternoon.

“We really have wanted to follow the lead of the community in understanding what we should be looking at for priorities for the site, but even more than understanding what the community wanted to see, we were interested in involving the community in the process,” Zawacki said of the evaluation committee.

The Marian Group’s plans include apartments, a boutique hotel, retail, restaurants, townhomes, condominiums, detached 21st-century shotgun houses, a multi-use community center, a parking garage and green space. The proposal calls for 200 market-rate apartments; 34 two-story townhomes and top-floor condominiums; 12 shotguns; and more than 10,000-square-feet of commercial space.

The development company, known for its Bradford Mill Lofts project, said it would offer 36 apartments for older residents on fixed incomes and plans to work with the local nonprofit Family Scholar House to incorporate a 36-unit low-income apartment complex for single parents.

Other features include a large walking path through the property and solar panel installations

While the proposal painted fairly detailed pictures of The Marian Group’s plans, the renderings aren’t set in stone. “While details may change, I think the picture will certainly stay the same,” Zawacki said

The Urban Government Center includes four buildings: 810 Barret Avenue, 850 Barret Avenue, 768 Barret Avenue, and a steam plant to the west of 850 Barret Avenue. It’s unclear if The Marian Group will try to rehabilitate any of them or demolish all four.

Members of its development team include architecture firms EOP Architects and WorK Architecture + Design; law office Dinsmore; and landscape architecture firm CARMAN.

The Marian Group in its proposal listed possible financing options such as low-income housing tax credits, a loan from the Community Foundation of Louisville, public/private partnership funding through the city, traditional bank financing and crowdfunding. The developer will have to take into consideration the federal tax bill, which just passed earlier Wednesday.

“Part and parcel with all of this is the conversation around federal tax reform,” Zawacki said. “We are still not sure where this will leave projects like this.”

The Marian Group has not provided an estimated cost of the project, but it’s safe to say it will be a multimillion-dollar development.

Councilman Brandon Coan, D-8, and Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, D-4, both praised the decision in the release.

“The Marion Group’s proposal reflects the density, connectivity and variety of housing options that the community clearly desired.  I hope historic preservation receives all due consideration but I am generally supportive of this project. 2018 will be a transformative year for the Barret Avenue corridor,” Coan said.

Here is The Marian Group proposal.

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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]


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