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Metro Council approves One Park TIF, reallocated workforce funding in final meeting of year

LOUISVILLE METRO COUNCIL lettering on dark blue wall underneath a LOUISVILLE JEFFRSON COUNTY seal
J. Tyler Franklin
/
LPM
Metro Council members held their final full meeting of 2023 at City Hall on Thursday night.

Louisville Metro Council members voted to pass a controversial tax incentive for a long-planned development. They also greenlit new workforce development funding after the city revoked a previous award following an ethics scandal.

The One Park project, led by local developer Kevin Cogan, could significantly alter a site near Cherokee Park. It would create high-rise buildings and feature a variety of facilities, including rental units, office space and a grocery store.

Cogan argues tax increment financing is necessary for the project to succeed. The TIF will allow the developer, JDG Triangle Partners, LLC,, to recover up to $114 million in local tax revenues that the site creates, for up to 30 years.

Metro Council approved zoning changes to accommodate the project in 2019 and this year. Then, last week, a council committee moved the TIF forward.

On Thursday night, the body voted 17-7 for the TIF. Council President Markus Winkler, a District 17 Democrat who sponsored the measure, said at the meeting that giving up some city tax revenue was necessary.

“It is a choice between 100% of nothing, or 20% of something,” Winkler said. “And I’d like the 20% of something. I’d like this historic investment in our community.”

Metro Council members also approved an amendment to the TIF plan, requiring the developer to set aside 10% of rental units as affordable housing for residents making up to 80% of the area’s median income. This year, 80% AMI would be $71,750 a year for a family of four.

Democratic Council Member Andrew Owen represents District 9, where One Park would be located. He has said he supports the project but not the TIF, and previously criticized city officials for agreeing to let the developer agree to less affordable housing units than an earlier agreement.

Despite the affordable housing change that returned the ratio to the original level, Owen still voted no on the measure. At the meeting, he said he thinks it’s not an appropriate use of city incentives.

“I do appreciate a lot of things about the project: the mixed uses, the height, the density… However, in this case, none of that is enough for me to support the TIF,” Owen said.

Cogan previously said he also plans to apply for a state TIF to support the project.

Repurposed federal relief

Lawmakers also approved a measure Thursday night that reallocates millions in American Rescue Plan funds to support workforce and personal finance initiatives.

Members voted a year ago to grant $40 million to the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council for a project aimed at the healthcare workforce.

But the city ended that plan in October after the Louisville Metro Ethics Commission determined that Council Member Anthony Piagentini, a District 19 Republican, committed ethics violations. The commission said he negotiated a job with the CEO Council while sponsoring their bid for the grant.

Most of the funds committed last year remain unspent. About half of them will go to five nonprofits tied to the original plan: AMPED, Metro United Way, the Louisville Urban League, the University of Louisville and ElderServe.

Metro Council Member Jecorey Arthur, a District 4 Independent, spoke in favor of the nonprofits at the meeting.

“Our community is so much better because of organizations like AMPED, the Urban League, Metro United Way, Elderserve and all the partners involved in this funding. I know this will be money well spent,” he said.

AMPED previously planned to seek grant funds for the purchase of land in west Louisville, where the group plans to build a facility for job training. The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting found that AMPED paid three times the assessed value of that land.

While the organization will receive more than $13 million as part of the reallocation approved Thursday — more than the $9 million committed to it the first time around — a city official said AMPED will not be reimbursed for the land.

The reallocation also provides around $10 million to deferred parks maintenance projects, and $15 million to cover higher-than-budgeted costs for library renovation and expansion efforts.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.