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June 2012
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City accepts general store plan for site

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

A general store will open on North Fourth Street in Lower Town.

The Paducah City Commission voted Tuesday to accept the proposal of Martin and Crystal Troutt to purchase property at 433-435 N. Fourth St. for $1 to construct an "Old Time General Store and Market."

The vote, however, was split 3-2, as Mayor Gayle Kaler and Commissioner Allan Rhodes hoped to avoid the demolition of a historic building in Paducah's Historical Neighborhood Zone (H-2 Zone).

The city acquired the property in February at a Master Commissioner's Sale.  The two-story, 3,744 square-foot brick structure was built around 1867 as a four-unit rental home. The building is converted into eight apartments but needs significant repairs, and the city received approval from HARC (Historic & Architectural Review Commission) to demolish the property. 

Earlier this month, the city published a request for proposals, hoping there would be interest.

The Troutts submitted one of two bids for the property. The second bid, made by M. Chad Beyer, ETC Development LLC, proposed to purchase the property for $1,000 and invest $275,000 to renovate the structure to create four upscale, affordable apartments.

Both proposals were described as "solid" by Planning Director Steve Ervin, and both had a letter of financial support from Paducah Bank.

Commissioner Sandra Wilson noted the general store would be seen from the downtown hotel and might spur other development in that area.

But what ultimately swayed her vote, she said, was the public support for the Troutts.

"While I appreciate the need for housing in downtown, they had a lot of letters of support from their Lower Town neighbors," she said.

The location, Martin Troutt said, was essential to their plan, as many of their regular customers at the downtown farmers' market were from Lower Town and recognized seeing them at the market, where they have had a booth for 10 years.

"We really cannot see our store in any other location," the couple said via proposal letter. "We believe our store will be a draw to the Lower Town/Downtown area benefiting the whole community."

The store will sell a variety of items including locally grown produce, annual and perennial plants, hand-crafted items, and nostalgic foods.

"We hope to have a deli and a bakery too," said Crystal Troutt.

Martin Troutt stated they did research the option of converting the historic structure into a store, but rehabilitation did not seem feasible.

After demolition, the Troutts propose to invest $254,000 into the construction of the general store. The couple will also need to purchase an adjacent property at 427 N. Fourth St., which is for sale.

In other matters, the commission:

n Introduced an ordinance to refinance the 2005 Police and Fire Fighter Pension Fund Unfunded Pension Liability General Obligation Bonds. 

In 2005, the city issued the 20-year bonds to fund the pension fund's nearly $6.1 million unfunded liability. According to Finance Director Jonathan Perkins, refinancing will save an estimated $200,000 in interest over the life of the bonds.

This is the fourth bond the city has refinanced since 2010, he said, for a total savings in interest of nearly $2 million.

n Introduced an ordinance authorizing up to $10.5 million in Industrial Building Revenue Bonds for the $19.2 million downtown hotel project. 

This type of bond is ultimately approved by the state during a bond hearing, which is set for June 30. The city bears no responsibility in the repayment of the bond, and it does not affect the city's credit rating.

The hotel developer, Paducah Convention Hotel, LLC, will lease the property. It will have no property taxes except for the payments in lieu of taxes made to the city and to the Paducah Independent School District. 

In May, Paducah Convention Hotel entered into a franchise agreement to build a 121-room Hilton Garden Inn adjacent to the Julian Carroll Convention Center. 

Groundbreaking will occur later this year, and the hotel is expected to be completed in the second half of 2015. 

"We expect schematic drawings of the hotel to be in our possession in the next 10 days," said developer David Puckett.

n Approved the 2015 budget in the amount of $67,858,815. The general fund, the city's main operating fund, holds the majority at approximately $33.2 million.

Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.

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