A new project is about to join the list of construction in the Tax Increment Financing District.

A 60,000-square-foot building with a mix of commercial and residential space is planned for 1.79 acres at State Street and U.S 31-W By-Pass. Demolition of two homes is complete and the salvaging of a metal building is about half finished, making way for construction there.

The property needs to be rezoned from light industrial and heavy industrial to central business for the mixed-use development. The City-County Planning Commission of Warren County will consider that rezoning at 7 p.m. today at City Hall. Attorney Lana Martin Kilgore said a detailed development plan for the property will be submitted soon.

"One of the things we've been finding in trying to attract other developments to the TIF is that we want to have more residents living downtown," said Doug Gorman, chairman of the Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority. "The more people who live down here, the more opportunities we will have."

Gorman said he is looking forward to meeting with the developers and seeing the plans. The design committee for the downtown development authority ultimately will have a say in what the final plans look like.

There has been an issue with getting more people and businesses downtown. To live downtown, people want to be able to go to dinner and buy at least some groceries nearby. But grocers want residents first before they will consider building something. Dollar General Store is nearing completion in the downtown district, an option that will provide some food items for residents who live downtown.

Kilgore said the new building will have three stories, with commercial space including a pharmacy with a drive-through and possibly a restaurant and medical-related offices on the first floor. The second and third floors will be apartments with key entry access only.

"The apartments will have what you would call upscale finishes, with granite countertops and other touches," she said. "It's going to be very attractive with a curve along the building on State and the bypass."

There will be a combination of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, Kilgore said.

The property is close to The Medical Center, so Kilgore anticipates doctors might find it an attractive place to rent an apartment. Two physicians, Pravin Avula and Kamal Singh, are developing the property through their limited liability corporation, Phoenix Enterprises.

"It should be very appealing to a number of people," Kilgore said. "This certainly fits within the design concept of what Bowling Green has envisioned (for redevelopment). People who live there will be able to walk to SKyPAC or Circus Square for concerts and to (Fountain) Square for dinner."

The property's general description has binding elements that would prohibit the building from being larger than 100,000 square feet and taller than six stories. It also would hold the number of apartments to 50 and require a five-foot sidewalk or greenway trail along the existing alley to connect the property to a planned section of a trail and to Circus Square. Ultimately, there will be a connection from Western Kentucky University through town to the Barren River near the Phoenix development.

The planning commission will require that the developer conduct a traffic study in the development plan or building permit phase of the project. The developer previously discussed with the city the possibility of making a portion of State and College streets near the bypass as a two-directional road instead of the one-way they are now.

Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said any discussion about the change will include the involvement of the state Department of Highways in Bowling Green. Changing the direction would require changes to the state's traffic signals on the bypass at First Avenue and State Street, Wilkerson said

"There is already a traffic study required now for the development, and we may work with the MPO to do a broad study ... more comprehensive look at the north end of town or the whole TIF," Wilkerson said.

"At this point it is just in the talking stages," Wilkerson said of the street change. "Nothing has been solidified, but at any rate changes would not go beyond Sixth Street."

Elsewhere in the TIF, work is progressing on the wrap of the parking garage adjacent to the Bowling Green Ballpark. The third and fourth floors, which will be home to Hitcents.com and Connected Nation, are further along than the first two floors, where there are negotiations for tenants. Gorman said there are early discussions with developers interested in the block adjacent to the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce building, but "nothing is on the cusp of breaking out there."

The authority is getting closer on finalizing plans with a developer to build a hotel adjacent to WKU's Augenstein Alumni Center.

Gorman said the authority still is providing information to the state to gain certification that the TIF has reached the signature level of $150 million in investment. He hopes that process will be wrapped up in a couple of months.

"Once that certification occurs, we can start getting the tax money to flow back here," he said.

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.


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