Restaurants at the commercial wrap in Block 6 of the Bowling Green Tax Increment Financing District could reopen in the next 30 to 45 days, according to Bowling Green Hot Rods owner Jerry Katzoff.
Katzoff plans to reopen restaurants Mariah’s and 6-4-3, which were closed in March in the wake of liens being filed on the property by contractors who say they are owed money for work on the wrap.
Before things can move forward, a formal agreement must be signed for him to take over the restaurants and gain access to the building, he said. “We haven’t had access,” Katzoff said. “That’s the most important thing.”
He said he has people preparing for the opening of the restaurants while negotiations are finalized.
“We want to try to open during the baseball season,” Katzoff said. “Certainly we’d like to open by July.”
Jodi Fleming, former general manager for the Hitcents restaurants and a longtime manager of Mariah’s, will work with Katzoff to reopen Mariah’s, he said, calling her the “face” of Mariah’s.
“We’ve had her working with us since we moved forward to try to take over the project,” Katzoff said. “So she’s eager to get back in there and get the restaurant open again.”
Katzoff gave a presentation Tuesday to Warren County Fiscal Court about his plans for the space.
Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon told Fiscal Court that details of a formal agreement were not ready for a vote.
Fiscal Court approved a settlement agreement last week with the Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority and Mills Family Realty to resolve financial issues surrounding the wrap, known as Hitcents Park Plaza.
Under the settlement, the county has agreed to settle with contractor
Alliance Corp. to satisfy claims of Alliance and subcontractors on the project, and the authority will step in as temporary landlord for the property before a new developer for the project can be brought in to replace Mills Family Realty.
While Katzoff wants to reopen Mariah’s and 6-4-3, he said he’s not sure what he will do with the space in the wrap formerly occupied by three fast casual restaurants.
“The other three will take some creative thinking,” he said. “You can’t overload the area with too many restaurants at the same time.”
Katzoff said he’s also interested in completing the wrap of the parking garage with apartments on the College Street side of the structure.
“I think it completes the project,” he said. “The more people downtown, the more people that go to the restaurants, the more people that go to the games. So it’s something we’d like to do rather quickly.”
He said the first priority is getting the restaurants open. The second priority will be getting tenants into the rest of the office space, he said.
Katzoff said he will work with Chandler Real Estate Services to manage the office space. He has worked with Chandler on Jennings Creek Apartments in Bowling Green, which Katzoff owns.
“And I think the building needs professional management that’s here all the time and can be responsive to the tenants,” he said.
Katzoff said its clear the baseball stadium does better when there are other activities around it and that there should be activities in the area that connects the ballpark and the wrap.
“The plaza that connects the two should really be part of the baseball event,” he said.