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Urban Government Center Developer Backs Out Of Deal, Citing City's Inaction

An old photo of the original German Paristown mural by longtime resident Joann Robinson
Courtesy Joann Robinson
An old photo of the original German Paristown mural by longtime resident Joann Robinson

Two years after Louisville Metro selected the Marian Group to redevelop the former Urban Government Center, the deal appears to be dead.

An executive with the Marian Group announced Monday that it is withdrawing from its agreement with the city. Justin Brown said in a statement that issues included Louisville Metro’s decision not to extend a contingency period and its failure to secure land use approvals.

"Ultimately, we are disappointed to have to step away. This is an important project for Louisville, and we remain optimistic for the future of the Paristown Pointe neighborhood," Brown said.

The plan was to transform the 12-acre site, which has government buildings that now sit empty. The development was to include townhomes, shotgun houses, offices and commercial space. The site is near the ongoing development of the Paristown Pointe Arts District.

The Marian Group’s mixed-use proposal was selected from a group of five finalists. The other ideas also included combinations of residential and commercial properties.

Earlier this month, a lawyer for the Marian Group asked Louisville Forward, the city's economic development agency, to extend the contingency period on the project, which was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2019. That came ahead of a Metro Council decision to table a vote on rezoning the property in question, which took place at the body's last meeting of the year.

In a letter on Monday explaining the withdrawal, the Marian Group's lawyer Cliff Ashburner said Louisville Forward Chief Mary Ellen Wiederwohl told him last week there was no decision or timeframe for extending the contingency period.

"Marian can only take that statement as a position that Metro will not extend the Contingency Period," he wrote.

He said the failure to pass the rezoning makes it impossible for Metro to acquire the needed land use approvals for the project.

In an emailed statement, Louisville Forward spokeswoman Caitlin Bowling said the agency respect's the Marian Group's decision.

"We remain committed to working with the residents of the Paristown Pointe neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods to revitalize this important property," she said.

She said the next step is to work with the Metro Council to rezone the property.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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