Despite their differences, state and local officials are inching toward a public-private partnership to redevelop the land where the Frankfort Convention Center and Fountain Place Shops once stood.

A brief letter formally notifying the state’s Finance and Administration Cabinet last week of the city’s preferred redevelopment method — some form of P3 — was the first milestone in a years-long process local and state leaders recently agreed to follow after months of delay. A single developer or development team will serve as master developer for the 6.4-acre site, said the letter, signed by Frankfort City Manager Cindy Steinhauser.

Local leaders now await the cabinet’s approval of their preferred redevelopment method for the Capital Plaza area site by the end of the month.

State and local officials have not always seen eye to eye on the exact method of redevelopment. Whereas the state has pushed for one large local government public-private partnership deal, city and county leaders have talked of the need for flexibility and the possibility of incorporating local funding or tax increment financing (TIF). With tax increment financing, local governments lure private development by promising away future tax revenue increases in well-defined TIF districts for a set period of time.

A consultant advising local leaders on the area has also expressed concern about the ease of redevelopment in recent weeks, especially because of constraints imposed on the area by the state’s obligations to the Capital Plaza Hotel, The State Journal previously reported.

Those constraints include the required provision of a 150-spot parking structure for the hotel, which sits on state land, and a non-compete agreement barring the state from directly or indirectly engaging in the hotel business within a mile of the Capital Plaza Hotel. The non-compete agreement was recently extended from 2022 to 2030, something consultant Barry Alberts of Louisville-based CityVisions described as “too bad” in a December email to Frankfort’s city manager obtained through an open-records request.

In a separate critique of new zoning rules proposed for the area, Alberts urged the city’s planners last month to lower the number of parking spaces that developers would be required to provide, according to emails obtained by The State Journal.

“The parking requirements have the potential of being a real deal killer, given the current economic weakness of the market,” wrote Alberts, predicting the city would need to be responsible for much of the structured parking in the area.

Alberts is studying the economic feasibility of various forms of development in the area as he prepares to present his initial findings at a public forum in mid-August. He advises the Capital Plaza Community Engagement committee, which plans to rename itself the Development Advisory Committee over the next two months.

Current committee members include City Manager Cindy Steinhauser, Mayor Bill May, City Commissioner Tommy Haynes, Judge-Executive Huston Wells, County Magistrate Don Sturgeon, local tourism commission head Robin Antenucci, Kentucky Capital Development Corp. President and CEO Terri Bradshaw, Downtown Frankfort Inc. Director Kelly Everman and local developer Taylor Marshall.

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