The proposed City Block project took a step forward Tuesday, as city leaders heard plans for a $21 million investment at Second and Broadway, which includes a new hotel, mixed-use buildings and green space.

“The final site plan is a $21 million private investment that includes the boutique hotel along Jefferson, two mixed-use residential and retail buildings along Broadway,” said Katie Axt, the city’s downtown development specialist.

“And then 60% of the site, continuing to be maintained for public parking, as well as, two sections of public open space — a promenade along North Second Street and green space along Water Street.”

The city commission introduced an ordinance Tuesday that approves a development agreement with Louisville-based developer, Weyland Ventures, regarding the project. It’s scheduled for an Aug. 11 vote.

Commissioner Gerald Watkins made a motion to table the ordinance, noting different concerns, including the COVID-19 pandemic, but the motion failed by a 2-3 vote. Watkins and Commissioner Richard Abraham both supported the motion to table.

Under the agreement, the 2.88-acre City Block is divided into three separate tracts and the actual development project is split into two construction phases. Weyland Ventures would own two tracts under the agreement.

Meanwhile, the city would own a larger tract in the middle that’s approximately 79,000 square feet. It’d feature public parking, open space and green space. The developer would eventually pay $141,000 and $155,000 ($296,000 total) for two tracts. The entire lot, or all tracts, were appraised for $810,000.

Axt gave a lengthy presentation Tuesday about the proposed agreement, following remarks from Weyland Ventures representatives, including chief strategy officer Bill Weyland.

“In the development agreement, we break this down into two different construction phases,” Axt said. “Phase one being the boutique hotel — tract 1 — as well as the public facilities, the parking and the open space. And then phase two is future development to develop the two mixed-use residential and retail buildings.”

Axt said the boutique hotel facility would be a roughly $12 million project. It’d have to meet downtown design standards, so it “complements” the historic environment and to ensure city design approval.

“The plan is to construct 84 rooms, approximately 64,500 square feet over a 4½ story building,” she said. “This would include lobby space, commercial and retail, as well as the hotel space and event space on the top floor that would ... be overlooking the riverfront.”

Meanwhile, Weyland Ventures would make improvements on the city-owned tract, while the city reimbursed it for development expenses. The existing lot has 213 parking spaces and the plan is to retain 172 parking spaces.

The second development phase involves building two mixed-use commercial and residential buildings in a $9 million investment. The phase could include approximately 18,000 square feet in commercial space with up to 48 residential units.

“This project is part of the larger TIF (Tax Increment Finance district) project, which covers all of downtown — roughly 315 acres of downtown and the City Block project is the keystone development project that will make the TIF work,” said Axt, who also noted that $20 million worth of investments is needed for the TIF district.

“We are continuing to work with the state on finalizing our TIF agreement. We received preliminary approval back in August of last year and we expect to receive final approval this coming fall.”

Several residents spoke in favor of the project, including Paducah Beer Werks owner Todd Blume, who said it’d help his business. Two residents voiced concerns about the project, including mayoral candidate George Bray.

“I see this development as something so special and so unique and especially at a time during a pandemic,” Blume said. “They’re still coming to us and they want to invest in Paducah. They want to put their money, $21 million of private money, not city money, into Paducah.”

In his remarks, Bray described the decision to sell parts of City Block to Weyland Ventures as “ill-timed.”

“The decision — I believe — to sell the city block to Weyland is ill-timed and we are going to own the outcome of an agreement negotiated amid the uncertainty of our current health crisis,” he said.

He cited several concerns, including that he believes it’s ill-timed due to “overwhelming uncertainty” of city, state and TIF revenues, along with uncertainty about potential remediation costs that the city is responsible for.

The presentation can be viewed at the city’s YouTube channel, @paducahkygov.

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