Construction of the interiors for Hitcents.com Plaza, the wrap around the parking garage at Eighth Avenue and College Street, began last week and some of the space is expected to be complete at the end of June.
David Butler, the construction manager for Alliance Corp., which is overseeing the project, said the undertaking is much larger than it would appear because of all the details that have gone into it. The first interior work is for fourth-floor space to be occupied by Hitcents, whose founders, the Mills family, are developing the wrap’s commercial portion.
The wrap is part of the development in the Tax Increment Financing District, which has included construction of the Bowling Green Ballpark and the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, the parking garage and wrap and other projects. The parking garage has been open for special events parking for more than a year now.
Mills family patriarch Ed Mills said that the walls went up in Hitcents’ space last week.
“So we are hoping to be in there July 1, give or take 30 days,” Mills said.
Butler said he actually has been urged to try to have the space completed for a June 28 event.
Alliance is going over the bids for completing the space that Connected Nation will occupy, also on the fourth floor, and the Mills family is negotiating with a tenant for space on the third floor, Butler said.
Mills said they have a tentative agreement with a business office tenant to occupy about 4,000 square feet of space. But the tenant is not yet to the point of making public his or her intentions, he said.
As for the first floor that is envisioned to be home to restaurants that would face Bowling Green Ballpark, Butler said they are looking at pricing out one of the spaces.
It has been mentioned around town that the Mills family was considering operating the restaurant themselves.
“But at this point, we aren’t considering doing it ourself,” Mills said. “We have meetings with people (from out of town) quite often, so we are going through the process to be able to tell people how much it would cost to outfit the space.”
Mills said there was some initial talk that if a restaurant like a Dave and Busters were to locate in the wrap, it would be on both the first and second floor of the building.
“But that hasn’t worked out,” Mills said.
During a meeting last week of the Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority, board members told Butler the building was looking good.
“The architects did a good job,” Butler replied, noting how the materials will blend with other buildings in the vicinity, including brick, stonework and accents of metal siding.
Discussions are ongoing with Louisville developer Allen Schubert to build apartments on the College Street side of the wrap. Schubert earlier in the week said he is still interested in the project but wants to find local investors who want to partner with him. Schubert is finishing up his transformation of the old Bowling Green Junior High School property into apartments for college students. The Columns, also in the TIF district, is nearly 100 percent occupied. The final work on what most people know as the auditorium building will be complete this summer, Schubert said.
The Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority board has been informed that the state wants the group to have an independent auditor verify the capital expenditures that have been made in the TIF. The latest request comes after back-and-forth information exchanges so the state will certify that $150 million has been spent in developing the TIF. Once the certification of a signature TIF happens, the city and developers of projects in the 49-block TIF will begin to receive a portion of the taxes created by new jobs and sales in the district.
During a meeting of the Special Purpose Entity II, another TIF-related group, that board agreed to advertise for a request for proposals from investors who would buy new market tax credits. The funds collected from the sale of the credits would be used to finish the Alumni Square development adjacent to Western Kentucky University. Western still wants to move the campus police station and parking offices to the wrap of its new parking garage nearby.
SPE Chairwoman Mary Cohron said the Louisville organization with which they had a commitment to use some of their credits wasn’t allocated any Wednesday when the credits were released.
Board member Ann Mead, who also is WKU’s chief financial officer, was a little more upbeat about their chances at getting credits. Mead said that PNC, which they have a good relationship with, was given some.
“Of course that was on a national level, so we will have to compete for them,” she said.
Mead said they have discussed the possibilities of using credits allocated to other agencies as well and hope to learn within three weeks or so whether any of them will be willing to allocate credits for this project.
Credits totaling $3.5 billion were issued Wednesday to 85 agencies and banks, called Community Development Entities (CDEs) across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury. PNC Community Partners Inc. received $45 million in credits.
The credits are intended to create new or increase investments in low-income communities. Individuals or businesses that purchase the credits can receive a federal tax credit totaling 39 percent, claimed over seven years.