Emails show city’s responses to Sansone Group’s shopping center proposal

More than 300 pages of emails Local 6 received shed some light onto how the city of Paducah and Paducah Economic Development feel about Sansone Group’s request to build a proposed 400,000 square foot shopping center.

Jim Sansone, of the Sansone Group, calls into question the legality of many of the emails he says defame his company. Sansone alleges PED CEO Scott Darnell interfered with prospective tenants by emailing them about other potential sites within Paducah because Sansone was not going to receive incentives. In at least two occasions, we found emails sent to Gordman’s and Academy Sports by Darnell touting the city’s "new business prospects."

Sansone also alleges Darnell contacted a competing developer. Count six of the six-count lawsuit said the Greater Paducah Economic Development Council acted maliciously and intentionally to interfere with Sansone’s proposal.

A July email titled "Funny of the Day!" seems to poke fun at Sansone’s proposal. Darnell writes: McDonald’s is hiring and wants 20 years of no taxes. They said if they don’t get what they ask for "They will not bring the McRib back to the menu," and "I also don’t want to think what will happen if they turn the ‘Minions’ loose on the City/County. We better act fast."

He later responded with "Well, I’ve met a few people in Paducah I would say acted like a Minion" and referred to his email as some "Sansone Jokes."

No one from Paducah Economic Development returned our messages for an interview.  

"I have worked closely with Sansone officials and met or talked with them more than a dozen times in an effort to find an incentive program to help fund their development," County Commissioner Bill Bartleman said, "However, there are no state or local programs to use taxpayer funds to help pay for a private retail development."

Bartleman’s statement continues:

"Sansone asked for TIF funding, but TIF guidelines as enacted into law do not fit for this project either. There is near unanimous opinion on the McCracken fiscal court  and Paducah city commission that Sansone’s project does not qualify for taxpayer-funded assistance.

Retail stores aren’t attracted to Paducah because of government incentives, but because market conditions are right and they know they  will be a financial success.

We will welcome the new stores identified by Sansone officials and are confident they’ll be part of our community in the future because none of those stores have asked for incentives to come here."

To read the lawsuit, click here.

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