Frankfort Mayor Bill May’s brother-in-law is in business with the lone bidder on Parcels B and C, the former Capital Plaza property that state and local officials hope to redevelop as the catalyst for downtown revitalization.
Marty Johnson, who is also listed as Luther M. Johnson and L. Martin Johnson on Kentucky business filings, is listed as an organizer with Jeff Quammen, Bill May’s brother-in-law, on Boxwood Development LLC’s business filing. Boxwood is based in Lexington at the same address that is listed for David Bates, the registered agent of New Frankfort Development LLC.
Johnson is the organizer of New Frankfort Development, a limited liability company that was formed about eight minutes after the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet opened the bid Wednesday. New Frankfort Development was the lone bidder on the 12-acre area that includes the former Frankfort Convention Center site.
If the bid is accepted by the state, the company will purchase the land for $1,000 and agree to develop it in accordance with the Downtown Master Plan and the state's contractual obligation to provide a parking garage for the Capital Plaza Hotel. The master plan calls for mixed-use commercial and residential development on the former convention center site.
May said he does not know Johnson and was unaware of his connection to Quammen. May said that he hasn't seen his brother-in-law in over a month and that, according to the mayor's sister and Quammen’s wife, Charline, Quammen is not involved with New Frankfort Development LLC.
“Jeff is not a partner,” May said after he spoke with his sister. He said that he wasn’t sure how the connection would affect the bid but he would look into it.
May said that he nor anyone else affiliated with the City of Frankfort was on the bid selection committee for the project. The state currently owns the property and is in charge of awarding any bids for its purchase.
Johnson, under the variations of his name, is listed as an organizer and officer of multiple businesses, including Neighborhood Restaurants LLC, Employee Resource Group LLC and Appalachian Land and Leasing Co. LLC. The leasing company’s address, 601 Main St., Suite 102, in Hazard, is the same address listed on the New Frankfort Development filing, according to the Perry County property valuation administrator's website.
All business filings can be found on the Kentucky secretary of state’s website.
When a State Journal reporter called Appalachian Land and Leasing Co., the directory said the number was for Neighborhood Restaurants and an employee answered the phone for Employee Resource Group. The employee said Johnson was not based at that office, but she would pass along the message to Johnson’s assistant.
A Google search doesn’t yield much information about Boxwood Development. No website or phone number comes up. The office address, 2365 Harrodsburg Road, Suite B175 in Lexington, cannot be found for a business. The building is office space for several companies and is owned by Southcreek Partnership, according to the Fayette County PVA website.
When a State Journal reporter visited the office on Monday, Johnson and Quammen were not available to answer questions, but an employee took the reporter’s contact information. The office was labeled by signage as a branch of Appalachian Land and Leasing Co. and Blue Ridge Insurance Group.