Louisville Magazine

MAR 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/267865

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Page 30 of 124

2 8 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.14 Louisville seems to be in the process of trying to reinvent its downtown. You see NuLu, stuf by the river, some activity on South Fourth. I think Fourth Street Live is a disaster. Main is doing better. As a member of the Downtown Development Corp. board, how do you envision a working, successful downtown? What do we need? What are we doing well? What do we need to do better? "Te single biggest thing we need to do more of is residential; we need market-rate residential housing. Afordable apartments and afordable condominiums. Te projects that have been afordable have succeeded, and the projects that haven't been have failed. And when you fail, everybody gets gun-shy. I think residential drives everything. It drives the restaurants; it drives retail; it drives safety because there's life and people on the streets." Where? "In the Central Business District. We have things on the fringes." Will people want to live in the city center as opposed to on the river? "It's not that people don't want to live there; it's that they need the amenities. You don't want to drive to the suburbs for retail when they'd prefer to walk two blocks away. One of the things I advocated for on the DDC board is a subsidization of a grocery concept somewhere in the center of downtown. We know it might lose money, but that would support everything around it. Subsidize it for a fnite period . . . to incentivize someone to come downtown." Did that get any traction? "It was talked about." What else? "Retail. And gaming, for downtown nightlife." Let's talk about gaming. You're involved with Kentucky Wins. How did that ball get rolling? "Ed (Glasscock, business attorney) and I just started talking. Te frst year we could generate $500 million for the tax base of this state. If we were talking about a company that could produce that, that we could recruit, we'd be bending over backwards to give them all kinds of incentives to come here. We'd be giving them tax breaks; we'd be giving them employment breaks. We don't have to give (a casino) anything to come in here. Tat's number one. Number two is you don't have to raise taxes to get it. How many times can you raise that kind of money without raising taxes? Never. It's impossible." Churchill Downs is on board? "For the frst time, Churchill Downs has agreed to come downtown to build a facility. It does not have to be on Central Avenue." Where would you put it? "As long as it happens, I don't care. But you could put it in the TIF (tax-increment- fnancing) district. You could put it in an area that's a little less built back up." How would it beneft the horse-racing industry? "I'm not writing the legislation, but we've suggested the tracks have 'topping rights' or bidding rights for the license. So if the license in Louisville is X dollars, we've suggested X times a certain percentage. So the track can buy it, but they've got to pay more than the highest bid. So the state's protected — no favoritism." How would revenues from a downtown casino be divvied up? "Again, we're not writing the legislation, but in general, education, the equine fund and other pots; however they want to design the legislation. But that tax revenue of $500 million goes to the state. It's new money." Are you a horse-racing fan? "I'm not, actually. I'm the one on the board who's not." What is your interest in this? "We were in the sports business, so we know what that did for downtown. I know there's a lot of talk about the proft-and-loss statements for the arena, but I know that on a game night or a concert night, you have life down here that you never had. And people's experience is so much better here than Freedom Hall. Nothing against Freedom Hall. It's sacred to me. I grew up going to Freedom Hall. But it's a diferent experience here than on Ring Road. People have cocktails downtown, dinner downtown, go out after the game downtown. You have all this new revenue. Maybe it's not meeting expectations, but before you had zero." Do you support the city trying to attract an NBA team? "I think multiple cities would jump at the chance to do it if the opportunity were available. Te mayor says we have to be ready in case the opportunity emerges for us. I agree with that. Tere are no opportunities emerging right now. Teams aren't moving. Tere are no expansion plans. Would I try to get it? If I determined it would be very good for the city, I would try to get involved. Right now, I'm trying to get gaming." As a member of the U of L trustees, what do you think of all the growth at U of L? Tis isn't a college town, but it is a University of Louisville town. Why is the university growing so fast, and is it good for the city as a whole? "I do frmly believe we have the best administration in university history. But I would say this. (U of L's growth) is our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. Almost every crane in the sky — forget the bridges — is a U of L crane. Tat's a great thing and a credit to (president) Jim Ramsey and the administration, right? Now, speaking as a town, I would like to see complementary things happening in the private sector. We don't have enough activity like that in the private sector." Do you have any ideas as to how west Louisville can make a comeback, attract jobs and businesses, and get some money fowing through there? "We need a major corporation to relocate there. You have Brown-Forman, which is a great asset. You'd like to see something move into the old Philip Morris property, something like that to jump-start that area. Short of that, I'm not sure how to help it grow." Tere is a little movement in Portland. "Tat's Gill (Holland). Tere's a great stock of warehouses. A great stock. It'll be a challenge. NuLu is beautiful, and it's close. Tis is a little more of a stretch. But I'm rooting him on." "The frst year a downtown casino could generate $500 million for the tax base of this state. If we were talking about a company that could produce that, we'd be bending over backwards to give them all kinds of incentives to come here." 26-29 Dept.indd 28 2/20/14 2:43 PM

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