A new home base for the Frankfort-Franklin County Tourist and Convention Commission will come with a new price tag.
Tourism board members met Thursday night for their regular meeting to discuss the development. Staff began unpacking May 10 at 300 St. Claire St. after leaving their longtime home at the Gooch House, which was sold earlier this year to the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA). While the new location could add upward of $7,000 annually to the commission’s operating costs, Tourism Director Robin Antenucci said it has its perks.
“We’ve had people that live here stopping by to say hello,” she said. “It’s been really positive. We’re in the foot traffic epicenter, so people are walking in asking questions. It’s been great.”
Antenucci said that the increase in rent and utilities is equivalent to $4,800 compared to the Gooch House. What could drive the cost up even further is finding parking, which had been quoted to Antenucci for as much as $2,800 per year for staff and visitors.
“We’d like to secure spaces for visitors,” she said. “We’re working through those issues.”
Frankfort’s Tourism Board had been operating out of the Gooch House, blocks away from the Capitol, for decades. The Queen Anne-style house sold in February to the KDA for $500,000, a move that officials touted as furthering the city’s relationship with the bourbon industry.
The property was assessed at $600,000 for tax purposes — 20% more than the city sold it for. Mayor Bill May said at the time that the property was a drain on the city and its sale would put it on the tax rolls.
Antenucci went to the city commission afterward and requested moving expenses of $5,000. She estimated the total cost with the increased rent and utilities at $11,300 for the first year in the location but said that would be offset somewhat by not paying for lawn care and internet and phone contributed by the city.
City commissioners have not addressed Antenucci’s request for additional funds. She was not sure how the deficit would impact the tourism agency’s functions if its request for city help is declined.
“Last thing we want to do is sacrifice is marketing dollars,” she said. “… We’ll try to make it work, but I hope they can help.”