A new banquet facility, WKU bookstore with a Starbucks, condominiums or apartments, a TV studio for live feeds – while those projects are only in their preliminary stages, they are among those Jerry Katzoff is pursuing for his Stadium Park Plaza development.
In an interview Wednesday, Katzoff outlined his vision for the downtown project.
Mariah's restaurant reopened Tuesday and work continues to reopen 6-4-3 sports bar this week. The next change visitors are likely to see is a new entrance from the plaza to the revamped playground at Bowling Green Ballpark, Katzoff said, giving children a chance to play while their parents patronize businesses in the plaza. It will be built soon after the baseball season ends there Friday.
Among the possible tenants for the ground floor plaza is a WKU bookstore on the Eighth Avenue side, potentially with a Starbucks or other coffee shop inside. "We have had discussions with the university," Katzoff said, adding, "I definitely think there's a need for a coffee facility on the plaza."
A WKU official characterized the plan as in its infancy.
"It's very, very early, but we love the concept," said Gary Meszaros, assistant vice president for Business and Auxiliary Services at WKU. "A lot still has to fall in place."
Katzoff said having the Starbucks in the bookstore could streamline the process because of the existing relationship between the university and the coffee seller. There is a Starbucks at WKU's Downing Student Union.
"We'll know a lot more when Starbucks officials get here" in the next few weeks, Meszaros said. Preliminary plans include potentially using the bookstore to sell student artwork along with the usual merchandise, he said.
The original plans for the wrap called for apartments to be built on the College Street and Eighth Avenue sides; plans that collapsed after the developer dropped out. Now, Katzoff is planning to complete the residential project with either apartments or condominiums.
"We're doing a study, but I'm more inclined to build condos," said Katzoff, who has enlisted architecture students at WKU to come up with proposed designs for the residential space.
Another change being studied involves moving the existing second-floor banquet facilities to the ground floor in a space once occupied by three fast-casual restaurants. For events that need more space, a tent can be extended into the plaza.
"We have the luxury of serving alcohol here," he noted of the plaza. "We want to make this a happy hour destination.
Two restaurants are enough, Katzoff said, explaining why he is not pursuing another eatery to replace the three closed restaurants. "We can make it a high-quality banquet space and that will give us more office space available."
On the Seventh Avenue side of the plaza, discussions are continuing with WNKY about building a TV studio for live feeds.
"We're hoping to work something out," said WNKY General Manager Linda Gray. "We're now waiting for contractor bids."
The TV station's main offices would remain on Emmett Avenue.
"We are working on an idea for a street level studio," Gray said. "We are excited about the downtown area. There's a lot going on down there."
The other three floors of the development are primarily office space, but with a major tenant slated to leave by Sept. 25.
Technology firm Hitcents announced this month it was vacating its top-floor space in a building that once bore its name.
"There are lots of possible tenants in town," said Katzoff, who added that the abrupt closing of the restaurants and turmoil regarding the development may have made some potential tenants wary.
"People will get more comfortable" when they see the renewed bustle of activity at the plaza, he said.