PADUCAH — Paducah leaders and members of the public learned new details about the progress of a major downtown redevelopment project.
During the Paducah City Commission meeting Tuesday night, Katie Axt, a downtown development specialist with the Paducah Planning Department, presented an update on the City Block Redevelopment Project.
The proposal is to redevelop the 3-acre municipal parking lot at 2nd Street and Broadway — which has more than 200 parking spaces — into the site of a hotel, mixed-use buildings, and a public open space.
In April, the city entered into a 12-month preliminary development agreement with the Louisville-based firm, Weyland Ventures, to look into doing the project. If the project gets the green light, Weyland will be paying for it.
But, before a final development agreement can be made, there are many steps that need to be taken. They include due diligence work, such as a geotechnical analysis to determine if the ground is suitable for construction, an environmental review, utility assessment, and a parking assessment. The city is responsible for the due diligence work.
Axt said the city has completed phase 1 of the environmental review. And on Aug. 30, the state gave preliminary approval of Paducah's TIF district, of which this project is a part.
Axt also said that Weyland has completed a site plan and concept design, which show a new hotel (with about 120 rooms) on the Jefferson Street side, two mixed-use buildings on the Broadway side (each featuring three stories of residential and commercial space), about 150 parking spaces in the middle, a city-operated softscape park on the Water Street side, and an urban park on the 2nd Street side.
Axt said one of the main goals is to establish a town square "to actually create a vibrant, multi-functional downtown destination that encourages people to gather, spend time, and support local businesses."
Phase 2 of the environmental review and the geotechnical analysis still need to be completed. Paducah City Manager Jim Arndt said the city is planning to hire the engineering firm HDR to conduct those assessments. During Tuesday's meeting, the Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance that would amend the city budget and pull $72,000 out of the reserves to pay HDR for the services. The ordinance will be voted on in two weeks.
Axt said the city is also responsible for a utility and parking assessment, which are planned for the future.
But during Tuesday's meeting, several people expressed concerns about the project's impact on parking, since the redevelopment site is the current municipal parking lot.
"They're going to put in a hotel and a whole row of retail buildings, and it's not going to take away any parking. I don't believe in unicorns," business owner Randall Knigh told the commissioners.
Another business owner, Rebecca Ausbrooks, created a petition asking the city to reconsider the project. She said the petition has more than 400 signatures.
Axt said the proposed development will still feature off-street parking. As for the parking analysis that is planned, Axt explained that officials will look at parking capacity and how to best manage existing parking spots better.
"These are still preliminary," said Axt."We want to hear people's comments and questions."
Arndt added that, "This is just a potential project. We still are a long ways away and we haven't even gotten to the negotiating table yet."
The city of Paducah website features a page with updates on this project. Click here to view.