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City Hall Talks CityBlock, Cordish

June 18th, 2009 by admin · 15 Comments

Down at the Budget Hearings at the Metro Council, they don’t always focus on boring budget issues. Sometimes they rehash fundamental differences in opinion on the way the government works.

Kevin Kramer is taking up the cause of CityBlock today, challenging city economic development boss Bruce Traughber on the city’s support of Fourth Street Live at the expense of local businesses like CityBlock. Kramer wanted to know what the city is doing for local merchants, given its loud, public support for Cordish.

Traughber, rather than answer Kramer’s question, launched into a history of Fourth Street and why it’s so important to local government.

He said he tried go get CityBlock owners to go along with a TIF for expansion, resolved a sign controversy and that they worked with CityBlock “a whole lot.” He even said that acquiring a garage across the street was meant to help CityBlock survive. Then he said the owners were still blaming the smoking ban for their demise.

I don’t have to call Ward Plauche to know he would disagree with each of those points.

Traughber went on about how important having chain restaurants in the heart of downtown is for luring tourists and how there would have been a block hole there after Oxford Properties, the former owner, announced it wouldn’t continue.

But the truth is the city did give loads of financial incentives to Cordish, and CityBlock was put in an impossible position for survival.

Tags: Cordish · Downtown · Economy · Metro Council · Metro Government

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 AB // Jun 18, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I gotta say, I look at the photos of the bar scene in 4th Street Live that the CJ posts and I scratch my head that our economic development dollars seem to mainly support slutty looking shooter girls with more ink than a sailor. I admit I never visited City Block and maybe they were the same, but at least they were local.

  • 2 Steve Bittenbender // Jun 18, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    4th Street Live has been around for, what, five years? While I’m sure it took some business away from Coyote’s, I’m not so sure it (nor the city’s investment in 4SL) was the cause of City Block’s death.

    I’d be interested to know how much of a dent the Electric Cowboy on Dixie put in City Block’s crowd. Rather than going downtown, South Enders had a new, closer option for their entertainment. I’d wager that has as much, if not more of an impact, than 4th Street.

  • 3 Crutnacker // Jun 18, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Where else can you bowl in a bowling alley with close to a million dollars in renovations only a couple of years after originally opening?

  • 4 voter // Jun 18, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    The Metro Channel had the hearings on today and I watched the part where Traughber was being asked the questions about 4thSL & City Block.
    Kudos to Kramer, Flemming, Downard & even Woolridge for attempting to get some clarity as to why so much financial support & contribution($70,000,000+) has been Given to Cordish for the operation at 4th St.
    Even with their direct pointed questions to Traughber, it was evident that he’s a master at not really answering the question. HE gave typical “CYA” answers to put the administrations spin on it was all the Council really got, a bunch of offset answers that of course were planned to make he & the Mayor look vindicated from any responsibility for inevitable results that comes from giving local business operators the “shaft” and suppling the competition with the financial steriods given those on their LOVE List!
    Shame on Bruce Traughber for being such a LIAR…..IIf the Council really wanted to see what the TRUTH is , why wouldn’t they invite the City Block Owners to appear with Traughber in front of the council to get both side of the STORY….The trouble with the Administration is they just make up what they want to say and put it out there as Gospel. We’re supposed to believe it , right?….NOT!
    I especially liked the B.S. comparrison Traughber gave Woolridge about the VALUE & DISPARITY on the the sale of the Galleria Garage to Cordish for $2.7mil(732 spaces) vs. the purchase of the Jefferson St. Garage fo $8 mil which has half the spaces.
    His anology was the Galleria garage was far less valuable ,like a car that he’d bought 25years ago. Compared to a new garage & that a new car today is worth more & cost more then the old 25yr old car. WHAT”S HE SMOKING?….Comparing a ordinary old car to a piece of PRIME Real Estate. Who’e he think he’s kidding. I can’t believe Jim King even let him continue. Hell he owns a Bank for Gods sake. He should have let Traughber know that no mater how bad the economy is with all the development downtown that garage has NOT depreciated to that extent. If the Budget Committe can’t see that as B.S. ,they shouldn’t even be on the Committe, especially the head of it who is a Banker,….Geeeez.
    Lets see?….Humm. A parling Garage ajoined to a Faculity thay has had $70million pumped into it for development and renovation has gone down in Value?….I doubt it, not to mention he stated that the garage was fully rented, with a waiting list? like all the city’s PARC garages. So why would thay give away something that would cost probably $18million to rebuild. OH yea!….it was a City asset, shouldn’t there have been an open bid process?
    I hope the metro Channel replays these hearing so it can be seen by more of the community , when it’s convient for them to watck it ,instead of the middle of the day when most of us are out working , and paying our taxes so a guy like Traughber & the MAYOR is “Sticking it to us Taxpayers”
    Traughber went on to further insult the business operators in the community saying that Louisville need the cookie cutter chains to get people downtown & to attract Conventions visitors, and that the Convention Visitor needed to have TGIF, and HARD Rock Cafe, and places such as that to service the conventioners. Memphis, New Orleans, Nashville,San Francisco, New York, any City USA usually identifies with their local flavor of entertainment & hospitality which they strongly support. But Not Here!, in Possibility City.
    For Traughber to use his comments to imply that the owmers of City Block were “offered” a helping hand by the city is preposterous and a out & out LIE.
    The Councimen Kramer,King, Flemming, Downard,Woolridge,Tandy, should insist that a local business that has been effected like City Block should be HEARD from formally in front of the same Budget Commitee. As long as the budget is being reviewed ?….They should hear from both sides, especially when the allocations of how guys like Traughber & the Mayor have used the money have caused the effects they already have & STOP believing that the Administration is right just cause they Say they are!

  • 5 Bruce Maples // Jun 18, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I don’t like what was done with FSL, but that ship has sailed. I’m not sure City Center is as locked down, but it is probably gone to Baltimore as well. So, some percentage of our city government’s budget is now in David Cordish’s private pocket. (You know it’s privately held, right?)

    Two other comments, one looking back and one looking forward:

    – When FSL was underway, I wrote some letters and did some research on why local businesses were not moving in. The story is that two very well-known local businesses (you’d know the names immediately if I shared them) contacted the city, Cordish, the mayor, and the person running the project, to see if they could at least BID on a spot. Not only were they not allowed to bid — no one even called them back! Local businesses were LOCKED OUT of FLS from the beginning.

    – Looking forward: have you looked at what else Cordish is involved in around the country? Take a look at their latest fascination: gambling and horse racing. They are trying to buy Pimlico (home of the Preakness) and have already bought other race tracks around the country. Why? So they can build casinos next to them, along with tourist developments like FSL.

    Could be as innocent as the driven snow. Could also be part of the gambling / casino discussions going on. Just interesting.

  • 6 voter // Jun 19, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Bruce Maples is “on the money” The Grand Scheme is much more intricate then meets the eye and the Mayor & close ,what I’d call, conspiritors like Traughber are most likely going to be the benificery of some bones comming their way at some point when the stars all align.
    No doubt the gambling card is the target issue long term.
    Just watch what happens & where Jerry lands later.They are all professional Liars. which means if they say it enough & can get someone to belive them? ,then that means it’s not a lie.
    Maples is correct, locals have directly asked to “Join the Party” and have been shined off like the plague. They all have been treated like meadlers,complainers,whiners. Their request mostly have been met by non-communication, non-cooperation, and aloof attitude, the City has offered no incentives to anyone but Cordish. They have flagrantly , and selectively and unfairly choosen the Cordish Co. to be a made up winner , and won’t produce any general accounting documentation that demonstrates such. At the same time they have by their arrogant actions decided that what they think is best and right and aren’t concerned one bit who they damage in the process.
    There needs to be a grassroots Anti-Jerry campaign started immeadiately, something like a small bumper sticker or window sticker that folks can express their anger towards the Mayor and make a statement that delivers “Anti-Jerry/no vote for Jerry”message starting Now!
    There should be some sign companys here that would contribute some printed stickers, I know there are people who would distribute them and make them available in all parts of town……I would personally give out 10,000 of them.
    I bet those guys at City Block would donate their spot for gatherings?
    Who can get a movement like this underway?

  • 7 albert gruneisen iii // Jun 19, 2009 at 7:23 am

    The parking garage sale is the piece of business that is going to bring the mayor and Trauber down and hopefully put in jail. The revenue stream from a full facility in a good-as-new concrete structure would have indicated a $12 million price tag from an investment perspective. With a budget deficit staring jerry in the face, why would he give away a huge passive revenue producer that our taxes paid for? The parking space rental fees could have built a new firehouse yearly. We have Madoffs in our midst. They need to be exposed and criminally prosecuted along with jerry’s other key appointee, Charles Cash; for his illegal manipulation of the zoning process.

  • 8 kdmaverick // Jun 19, 2009 at 10:31 am

    As a relatively uninformed person on incentives for economic development, how does the support for Cordish compare to what is going on with the Iron Quarter? Are those guys getting the same sort of incentives to create a vibrant space? They are, after all, local guys.

  • 9 Thomas Stinson // Jun 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    All of the above are just more example of “City Hall power plays”. The final location of the white horse arena project should be included in the mix. The original developers of O’Malley’s Corner risked their own capital two decades ago at 2nd and Liberty to create a downtown entertainment venue in an unproven market, only to be financially put out of business by special interest at city hall. Over that time period they have provided the city with hundreds of thousands in tax revenue and created thousands of jobs. The Comedy Caravan located on Bardstown Road established in 1987, employing hundreds of workers over the years another local business financially squeezed to the brink by city hall subsidies to prop up an out of town chain. I have absolutely know knowledge in the technology business, however if given access to the Federal treasury even I could probably remove a few comas from the net worth of Bill Gates. If I was not aware of the political affiliation of the current City Hall administration I would think the Bush administration had a satellite office still in operation.

  • 10 Andy Rooney // Jun 19, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Well, I’d say that the Blues are on the Fav5 list of the Mayor, and even though they appear to have sufficient personal funding, i’d guess they would be eligable to get some concessions from the City, and they Should! After all they have been commited to this community all their lives & have done a lot of good thinks here in Louisville.
    I don’t know what they have been offered by the City , however it should be at least what Cordish has gotten pro rata!

  • 11 Charlie // Jun 19, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Why don’t you go ahead and call Ward Plauche and ask him about the effects of the smoking ban? You might learn something.

  • 12 James Bookings // Jun 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    I agree that Todd Blue should get assistance from the City.. Another color, The Browns, as in Laura Lee, sure got a lot of help and praise for the yet to be built Museum Plaza. The guys at City Block probably are not big political givers and I doubt they are in the same league ($$$) with the Browns or the Blues! Sorry boys.. I guess it was determined you may be from the wrong side of the tracks!

  • 13 Mike Blisting // Jun 19, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    You know what the read truth is here !….Everybody knows what the real truth is here!……The more a guy like Traughber gives contrived answers like he did in that hearing( i watched the replay) the more evident the CORRUPTION is…..How can those councilman not take some action !….It’s like The Charles Cash deal & Bill Schreck deal on the soccer center. They should be FIRED and a message sent that the standard of expetation will be upheld and executed to the fullest. You think that’s the first time that’s ever happened?….probably happened 1000 times previously……And the Mayors solution is to say “they won’t do it anymore”…..BULL!….they will be more creative about not being found out.
    I agree with voter , the answer Traughber gave about the garage being worth less cause it life expectentacy was 25years, is a Dumb enough answer to have him removed as the Director of Economic Development…..I wonder if he’d apply the same theory to his own home or real estate he owns. Think he’d like to sell his house for what he bought it for 25 – 30 years ago or less, if next to his property millions were spent on renovations do you think it helps or hurts the values ?? To think he’d lay such a bullshit answer on the council & the taxpayers and expect them to believe it makes me angry, and what makes me more angry is that some of those on the council didn’t GET it ….they are supposed to be intelligent and savy enough to not let the voters and taxpayers get “F’d ” by slimeball politicans like this guy….Kick Him To the Curb!
    Come on Jim King?….you want to be Mayor?….lets see you show some balls here, and question the shennigans going on, or are you going to sit on your hands and just turn your head?

  • 14 Charlie's Cousin // Jun 19, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    That’s right , Traughber implied that( City Block) they were using the smoking ban issue as if it wasn’t true that it had a negative effect on the business!….Of Course, I forgot Bruce Traughber & the Mayor are infallable and are “know it alls”…..They make me angry also!

  • 15 Joe // Jun 22, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I find it funny that CHARLIE’S COUSIN brings up the smoking ban. Anyone who thinks that the smoking ban did not affect the bottom line of each and every bar within the Metro area is crazy! Almost every bar in Louisville which had the outside room or property to do so had to expend huge amounts of money to accommodate the largest portion of their patronage which were smokers. Outside areas with tents, fans, heaters, and even outside bars were needed. With the exception of one centralized venue, the City’s beloved 4th Street Live. I believe if you check into the exact requirements for area size, amount of opening both vertical and horizontal, and signage which is spelled out in detail in the “Smoking Ban” you will find that 4th street is not in compliance. If you remember the exemption Churchill Downs originally received was the reason the ban was recalled for several weeks in December 2007. That exception which was over turned allowed people to smoke under the covered grandstands which had way more open area then 4th Street could ever have unless they pull the roof off the place!
    But let’s not even go there as I can give a better description. I was at 4th street just last week and without even looking for issues a couple of things hit me in the face. Being a smoker myself I found myself waiting to finish a cigarette on the second floor before entering the mezzanine bathrooms. I was approached by one of the upstairs security (very nice man) who asked if he could help me. When I told him I was waiting to finish my cigarette before going into the bathroom he said “that’s ok these bathrooms don’t apply to the smoking ban go on in”. With that I did and found several others in the bathroom smoking away. That got me too thinking and I started looking around and found very little enforcement of no smoking as I watch several people go from their tables outside Saddle Ridge too the bar and back while still smoking. Also I found it interesting that when you get ready to leave and go to the elevators in the parking garage there are no “No Smoking signs outside or inside the elevators and even more so no smoke detectors in those elevators, or at least they don’t work because I enjoyed a cigarette while riding up to the 6th floor where my car was parked (smoked up that elevator pretty good). What a Great Place I have found in 4th Street Live! It is not only above the laws created by Metro Louisville but it’s above the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I just wonder how the they treat the ABC laws there? Do you really have to be 21 to drink there, can I smoke Marijuana there, and what else can the public do within the confines of this wonder place Jerry has created for us.

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