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Did Abramson Want CityBlock To Shut Down?

June 18th, 2010 by jake · 16 Comments

A May 28 article in the Courier-Journal by Sheldon Shafer about Jerry Abramson’s spending has raised tons of questions.

I’m sure you all remember when Ward Plauche and crew had to shutter the doors of CityBlock because Metro Government wouldn’t work with them so they could stay in business. So we won’t rehash all of that. (Click here, here & here for more on the story, if you’re so inclined.)

I’ll just be straightforward. Read this excerpt from Shafer’s story:

The budget did receive a boost with several million dollars being available from unspent proceeds from old bond issues.

For instance, $1.8million was available from a bond issue sold years ago to help finance the Marriott Louisville Downtown hotel. Of that, Abramson proposed spending $850,000 for a pedestrian bridge over Sixth Street connecting the Muhammad Ali Center plaza with the Riverfront Plaza/Belvedere. The bridge would develop a “Waterfront Walk,” as Abramson described it, connecting the Ali Center on the west with the downtown arena on the east.

Ali Center President Greg Roberts said, “Having the Sixth Street pedway connect the Belvedere to the Ali Center plaza would be enormous for us, for the downtown, and for the visitors to our city. And with the new arena opening soon, this would be a positive step in offering accessible options for increased pedestrians downtown.”

Other projects Abramson proposed funding with the leftover Marriott proceeds include $200,000 to repair the elevators from the Belvedere to the wharf and $750,000 for landscaping and streetscape improvements along Second Street and other areas near the arena.

Interesting.

Remember when the CityBlock folks met with Traughber to petition for usage of funds? Remember when Traughber said everything was exhausted? And what little bit of funds were available, they were dedicated to Merlot’s and redevelopment by Cordish? Yeah. Boggles the mind, I know.

So, is there really money left over? If so, how would anybody know? It’s odd to say everything’s gone a year ago‚Ķ and suddenly tons of cash just happens to be ripe for spending.

If these funds have been available, it would seem that Abramson and crew purposefully let CityBlock close after 19 years.

I can’t believe no one else is scratching their heads over this mess. Cause it seems to me Jerry’s out-of-town friends got all the money they needed, for free, and local businesses couldn’t even get loans to remain in operation.

Tags: Business · Cordish · Downtown · Jerry Abramson · Oops

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mark H (Not Hebert) // Jun 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Everyone with a synapse firing in their brain knows that numerous people have their eyes on CityBlock as development site once the arena is complete. An antiquated nightclub complex is far less appealing than a new hotel with a footbridge to the arena or a new shopping complex. Why take it under eminent domain, when you can allow it to rot on the vine. If anyone thinks that building complex will still be standing 5 years from now their nuts.

  • 2 Mark H (Not Hebert) // Jun 18, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    “they’re nuts”

  • 3 Steve Magruder // Jun 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I would add that it was already pretty clear that this administration had it in for CityBlock. It’s just now we have a clearer picture of the city’s finances at the time the mess was happening. At any rate, it’s good to have this history filled in — thanks Jake!

    Are there grounds for CityBlock’s owners to sue the city?

  • 4 Tom // Jun 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I seem to remember an article possibly in the C-J where Mr. Traughber said that they offered City Block $200k, is that documented ? I mean does the Economic Development Office ” have a record of that?…Or does Traughber have proof of that because all this sure makes Traughber & the MAyor look like LIARS!!

  • 5 jake // Jun 18, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    The City Block folks said in a story on this website that they were offered $200k after it was too late.

  • 6 Benji // Jun 18, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I’d say Jake is on the MONEY that the Mayor & the CITY wanted that place to go away for their own benifit & that of their Partner!….that’s right PARTNER!….CORDISH IS PARTNERS with the city in 4st…..Geez! Talk about simple to understand, you’d have to be a Moron to not make that deduction.

    Also…Mark H is right Too !…..A new Hotel or development with gambling would just peachy for the City to be partners in with their buddies the CORDISH Co….It’s just that it’s infuriating that the City conspires to fuck the local guys!….Why wouldn’t they just do the right thing , just buy the business and then do what they want and avoid all the ill will and bad publicity….Pretty hard also for me to understand how the Metro Council Members can sit there, see all this stuff go down and not one of them has had the awareness and GUTS to call anyone out on this especially. It’s time for these Metro guys and the Mayoral canidate to recognize that when the Big Bad Guys in goverment conspire to screw you, eventually they will have to pay!…..I hope they get raked over the coals and get wats comming to them….They always think it’ll just fade away!…..they sould be inditated for Criminal Intent, Conspiracy, and what ever else can be shoved up their ,you know whats!

  • 7 Tom // Jun 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Sue the Mayor and his cronies, Now there’s a thought?….Is that something that can be done over a situation such as this. Wonder if there are any Legal experts that can comment on that idea & the chances of it producing any results…Seems like these pompus politicians can get away with murder when it’s obvious what they are doing. Guess there’s no way to really do anything cause they always just give themselves absolution ( you know make up some story )?

  • 8 Mark H (Not Hebert) // Jun 18, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    The problem Tom is that there is that the City of Louisville had no obligation to give money to any specific group. You would have to prove that you had a right to the money and the Jerry & Co. conspired to keep you from having it.

    Now I totally think Plauche was hosed, but some of the blame has to fall with him as well. He should have recognized that his business would be a target for redevelopment due to it’s usage, visual appearance, and location. The buildings and business had little value in comparison to the land itself. As such, it may have been wise for him to have considered an alternative usage or higher-end entertainment club, so that the city would have wanted to showcase the block, instead of trying to figure out how to kill it.

    The realty is that the city is unlikely to give large public grants to a dinosaur business concept from the early 1990s, when compared to new downtown entertainment projects like O’Sheas’s and Prime.

  • 9 Tom // Jun 18, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    No doubt it would have been a Great Idea if City Block had spent a couple extra million on higher end renovations, but he’d have still been spending private money while the competition was spending FREE money.

    Another observation !…..At least five or six of those so-called higher end entertainment clubs were unsuccessfull and failed , & they were not dinosaurs, ?….The reality also is that O’Sheas and Prime came way after the shine was over five years old at 4th st. and size wise are no where comprable to the likes of 4st to City Block.
    I think City block produced a lot of Named national acts & sold hard tics…..4st street dilliuted the market by doing the same thing for free with free money & NO risk? Think that might have hurt the hard ticket market for a while?
    I think the City Block guys did everything they could to consider Alternative usage, but a project encompassing a whole city block Cost BIG BUCKS!….just ask the City & Cordish , what they spent ? All in about $50-$70 million?(FREE $$$) The local guys could have probably done the same thing with 10% of what was burned up at 4st.
    You are right he was Hosed, allieniated,lied to, cheated, and he probably should have had a crystal ball to know what the city was planning, because they sure didn’t share it with anyone like him or other local operators on Bardstown rd that suffered also.
    Bottom line is the City created a unfair enviorment & equation for a lot of locals, and continue to do so…..The City shouldn’t be in the business of picking the winners and losers!!!!
    I am amazed that Todd Blue even wants to go forward with the Iron Quarter project. If he gets it going , by the time he gets to start loading tenants in the place, The city & their partner’s Cordish Co. will be building Water Co. block with the free land given them($16mil)…..and the other couple hundred million they will be given to do the deal……Heck , won’t they be challanging for the same users?… I think Louisville can’t support all of it unless something drastic happens to generate people LIVING downtown .

    Just Saying! you gotta look at it from all the angles, to really put it all in perspective. And you know what they say about Hindsight?

  • 10 Tom // Jun 18, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Oh Yea I forgot, The city has NO OBLIGATION to be Fair….but they do have an OBLIGATION to be HONEST….and it dosen’t seem that they have been either.

  • 11 Mark H (Not Hebert) // Jun 19, 2010 at 12:18 am

    I can’t disagree with any of your points Tom. I was just pointing out that he doesn’t have a legal position when it comes to litigation due to the fact that he had no right to the money.

    Unfortunately we have moved into an era where we have enable government in this country to pick the winners and losers. Businesses have become more and more dependent on government handouts, subsidies, and tax incentives. As such, we have empowered them to pick the winners and losers. The structure begs for corruption and manipulation. As long as we allow our political leaders to distribute huge amounts of cash, without demanding transperancy, this is the kind of unfair favoritism we receive.

    That said, I don’t think I am Monday-morning quarterbacking to state that he should have realized that an outdated entertainment complex adjoining the new arena would have been a target for redevelopment.

  • 12 Tom // Jun 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    I have no doubt & agree with you that the owners of City Block realized that they were Target by the City. I’d also guess that not only them but anyone trying to substain their business in an enviorment where you are compeating & have to outspend the goverment would know there would eventually get the weenie!
    I agree with you that they had No right to the Money, and that’s what sucks! The Administration should not be partners in the entertainment business and self funding their own deals with our money.No one could get access to that money cause it was reserved for their own deals!….One thing is I do have to give credit and admire the City Block /O’Malley’s Corner/Coyotes guys for Standing up being Vocal about the disparrity,….I’m sure they suffered a great deal of retrebuttion from the Mayor for telling it accurately!…You’re right, they knew they were “F’d” in the long run and there wasn’t much they could do about it. I don’t know anybody that would have stuck it out as long as they did.
    Pretty bad that our local goverment is run like organized crime!
    Our Political leaders don’t need to be in the private development business

  • 13 Localdude // Jun 19, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    The City is like a BIG Bully, thats how they operate, if they decide you are not on their favorites list because you don’t agree with them, they subversively attack you where & how they can,because they can!

  • 14 Mark H (Not Hebert) // Jun 19, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Just like Congress.

  • 15 Jack // Jun 20, 2010 at 9:11 am

    If you like what happened to City Block, then vote for Greg Fisher for Mayor in November so we can continue these wonderful political games.

  • 16 Localdude // Jun 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    You got that right Jack!.

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