Capital Plaza Hotel deal imposes ‘serious constraints’ on downtown redevelopment, consultant says

Consultant Barry Alberts of CityVisions addresses members of the Capital Plaza working group. (Alfred Miller/alfred.miller@state-journal.com)

The Capital Plaza Hotel is creating headaches for those tasked with planning downtown redevelopment in Frankfort.

Not only does a non-compete agreement with the state effectively grant the Capital Plaza Hotel — which sits on state land — a monopoly on the downtown hotel business, but whoever redevelops the 6.4 acres of land where the Frankfort Convention Center and Fountain Place Shops once stood must also provide the hotel with 150 dedicated parking spaces.

“Those are pretty serious constraints,” CityVisions’ Barry Alberts told members of the so-called Capital Plaza working group during their regular Wednesday 1:30 p.m. meeting in Franklin County Fiscal Court. Alberts, who was hired by the city and county to craft a master plan for downtown redevelopment, estimated the cost of a parking structure at $3 million. He declined to speak with The State Journal after Wednesday’s meeting.

The consultant is studying the economic feasibility of various forms of development in the area as he prepares to present his initial findings during another public forum in mid-August. Among the issues Alberts plans to address will be public sector incentives and downtown circulation, including the proposed extension of Washington Street, he said Wednesday.

Pressed by County Magistrate Don Sturgeon on whether he’s looking at the feasibility of replacing the now-demolished Frankfort Convention Center, Alberts deferred to City Manager Cindy Steinhauser.

“The goal isn’t, hey, at the end of this, we have a convention center,” Steinhauser said. “The goal is, at the end of this, how do we have a community that can go after and attract more meeting-room business, leisure tourists, convention business? That’s the goal. The goal isn’t a building.”

The August forum will likely be held in the newly renovated Paul Sawyier Library, working group members decided Wednesday.

Before then, the working group will be submitting to the Finance and Administration Cabinet a proposed method of development for the 6.4 acres, also known as Parcel B. Steinhauser said Wednesday she was working with Alberts to draft that correspondence, which is supposed to come from a “development advisory committee,” in accordance with a recently approved agreement between state and local governments.

The working group — technically the Capital Plaza Engagement Committee — plans to update its name and mission to assume the development advisory committee role, Steinhauser said Wednesday.

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