The Bowling Green City Commission on Tuesday night approved entering into negotiations with Bowling Green Hot Rods owner Jerry Katzoff about taking over the management of the parking garage wrap in Block 6 of the downtown Tax Increment Financing district.
The municipal order was approved after a closed executive session lasting about an hour and half.
It authorizes city staff to negotiate with Katzoff, or a company named by him, for the transfer of the interests of Mills Family Realty, LLC related to the project.
It also authorizes the hiring of attorney James Parsons of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP to negotiate for an agreement. Parsons will be paid $235 per hour.
The Block 6 wrap currently consists of Hitcents Park Plaza, which is home to Mariah's Restaurant and 6-4-3 Sports Bar. Three other restaurants that had been opened at the development closed in 2014.
The City Commission in 2012 approved a number of agreements to help with financing the garage wrap in Block 6 of the TIF district at College Street and Eighth Avenue, now known as Hitcents Park Plaza.
The city leased the parking garage, with payments for the garage set to be equal to bond payments for the wrap.
Agreements at the time also set aside money to help cover the cost of the parking garage lease, including lease revenues from the wrap, TIF revenues generated by one of the tenants of the wrap and TIF revenues generated in blocks 4A, 5, 8 and 10. Any revenue beyond the lease payment would go to the city and could be used to pay off other bonds.
The city is responsible for covering whatever portion of the bond payment isn’t covered by specified revenues. The subdeveloper has to pay the city back for any payments it makes, but only if the company wants to buy the wrap after bonds are repaid.
In 2013, the City Commission issued $5 million more in bonds for a project in which $22 million had previously been approved so that Mills Family Realty could further develop the wrap.
Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said Katzoff approached the city about stepping into the role of Mills Family Realty for the development.
He declined to comment on whether or not the action indicates a lack of faith in Mills Family Realty to sustain the wrap project.
Wilkerson said Katzoff has expressed interest in completing the College Street side of the garage wrap.
He said he doesn't see the negotiations as a bad sign for the TIF district.
"I think its a good sign that you have someone of the investment quality and character of the Katzoff family ... who are looking at Bowling Green to expand their investment opportunity by making it a part of their baseball park experience," Wilkerson said.
He said he does not expect negotiations to conclude quickly.
"We have our due diligence to go through and there's a lot of details that we have to examine, and both of us have to come to a mutual agreement about what's best for each party," Wilkerson said.
Those negotiations will include Warren County government and the Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority, he said.
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