LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Louisville Arena Authority would earn $12 million to offset debt repayment funds from KFC Yum! Center which he did not receive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Waterfront Park is set to get $10 million to advance its westward expansion plan.
And the Louisville Zoo would use $10 million to launch its $30 million “Kentucky Trails Habitat” on undeveloped zoo property.
The two-year state spending plan approved by the Kentucky Legislature Wednesday includes those and other Louisville projects and now awaits action from Governor Andy Beshear.
Even though the Republican-controlled General Assembly controls state spending, it has agreed to fund Waterfront Park at the same level Beshear proposed last fall. The Waterfront Development Corp. plans a 22-acre expansion between 10th and 14th streets as the fourth phase of the park.
The state funds would give waterfront officials $22 million of their $50 million goal, said Deborah Bilitski, the company’s president and chief executive. Money raised so far includes Metro government and private funds.
“The support we receive from our municipal and state governments is very catalytic in our fundraising efforts throughout the community,” she said.
The state budget has tapped into federal coronavirus relief funds to help the arena authority, which relies on sales tax revenue from a central tax-raise funding district. city to help pay off its construction debt.
The Yum! The center’s debts come largely from fixed sources such as annual payments from the University of Louisville and a contribution from the metropolitan government of $10.8 million in the current fiscal year.
But the TIF district is the biggest source of that revenue. And with hotels, restaurants and other stores closed in the first year of the pandemic, the district generated none of the projected $13.2 million in sales tax in 2020.
The arena authority has applied for funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to offset this, said Leslie Geoghegan, president of the arena authority.
“The whole reason we asked for this ARPA money had to do with the losses we suffered, especially with TIF, during Covid,” Geoghegan said. She said the state-approved funds would be used only to help pay down debt on Arena Bonds.
The budget calls for a Louisville metro government match. Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration had no details Thursday on how the city funds would be used.
Elsewhere, the budget includes $1.5 million in public funds for the Waterfront Botanical Gardens to construct a construction access road and install a new sewer system to mitigate flooding.
Kasey Maier, president and CEO of the gardens, said the access road would lead construction crews to the site of a new Japanese garden due to open this summer, away from the site’s main driveway. .
“Right now we really only have one aisle, but we have a lot of visitors, programs and events all the time,” she said.
Built on a landfill in the floodplains of the Ohio River and Beargrass Creek, the property has had drainage issues, Maier said. Publicly funded works are expected to manage runoff on Frankfort Avenue.
Both projects are expected to begin later this year, she said.
The zoo’s $30 million “Kentucky Trails” initiative would offer “close encounters” with native state animals such as bison, elk and bear and would host a safari, event space and Kentucky Conservation Center, spokeswoman Kyle Shepherd said in an email.
It is envisioned on 20 acres of zoo property which is not currently open to the public. The zoo would still need to raise the remaining $20 million, Shepherd said.
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