City Holds Redo of Meeting After Complaints
By West Kentucky Star Staff
PADUCAH - During Tuesday's meeting, the Paducah Board of Commissioners held a redo of their July 28 meeting.

The redo follows complaints from city commissioner Richard Abraham and local media after the Paducah City Commission voted on several major projects despite problems with video and audio that reportedly failed to allow proper public access to the meeting.

Prior to the redo, the city consulted with the city attorney, who determined that the July 28 meeting did actually comply with open meetings laws. However, the city chose to redo the meeting in an effort to provide transparency.

Due to the redo, they will be holding a second meeting Wednesday.

Mayor Brandi Harless said, "It doesn't hurt us to do this again, just to make sure that in the future, if Attorney Generals go back and say okay there was some problems there, that we're covered."

During the meeting, commissioners approved a municipal order to continue a pause of their agreement with Lose & Associates, Inc regarding the design and construction of the Indoor Recreation and Aquatic Center until January of 2021. At a previous meeting, the majority of the board approved adding an amendment to the order which directed the City Manager to continue due diligence on the project which would include:

• The creation of a conceptual build-out for prospective tenants;
• The creation of community focus groups for the project with an emphasis on inclusion and programming;
• Research on financial assistance and facility naming rights;
• Research on facility costs with an emphasis on understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the project.

The order was approved, although Commissioner Richard Abraham and Commissioner Gerald Watkins voted no. Watkins and Abraham have both stated that they are in favor of pausing the design, but they are not in favor of the amendment which continues due diligence on the project due to concerns with costs.

Before the vote was held, Abraham made a motion to remove the amendment regarding due diligence. The board did not approve Abraham's motion, with only Abraham and Watkins voting in favor of rescinding the amendment.

Additionally, commissioners introduced an ordinance which would approve a development agreement between the city and Weyland Ventures Development, LLC for their City Block Project. If approved, the ordinance would set up a development agreement between the city and Weyland Ventures Development, LLC, for work on the City Block Project.

The project will include the development of a hotel, parking, open space, and mixed-use residential buildings to be located on the city-owned block that sits in-between Second Street, Broadway, North Water Street, and Jefferson Street.

In April of 2019 the city and Weyland had entered into an agreement which enabled each party to begin research for the project, including numerous stakeholder meetings, market and financial analysis, project development and design, environmental review and geotechnical analysis, and a parking analysis.

The block is divided into three tracts, with Weyland purchasing the two smaller tracts (track 1 and track 3). Tract 2 will remain under the city's ownership for parking and open space.

In the first phase, Weyland will be purchasing Tract 1 for $141,000 for construction of a 4 1/2 story boutique hotel. The final plan indicates that the hotel will have 84 rooms along Jefferson Street. Weyland will be investing a minimum of $12 million into the hotel. The city will review the design of the hotel, ensuring that the design fits in the historic downtown area. Additionally, during the first phase, Weyland will be providing improvements to Tract 2. The goal is to create a green space, open space, and a parking area with the final site plan depicting 172 parking spaces. Currently, the parking lot offers 213 spaces. The city will remain the owners of tract 2 and will reimburse Weyland for the cost of development.

The second phase of the project includes the construction of two mixed-use commercial and residential buildings along Broadway on tract 3. 

Weyland will purchase tract 3 for $155,000 and will be investing a minimum of $9 million into the project. Initial discussion indicates that phase 2 could include approximately 18,000 square feet in commercial space, with up to 48 upper-story residential units.

While discussing the ordinance, Mayor Brandi Harless made a motion to amend the section of the agreement that is related to the reimbursement of environmental remediation costs. The amended section reads as follows:

Reimbursement of Remediation Costs.  Should the Developer be required to perform any remediation work on the Development Site, the City shall reimburse the Developer the actual costs of the remediation as provided under Article VI of this Agreement, up to the equivalent of the purchase price of Tracts 1 and 3. Should the cost of additional remediation exceed this amount, the City and the Developer shall work collaboratively to identify additional sources of funds to be used for remediation.   However, should the additional cost of remediation exceed such available funds, the Developer shall not be bound to the conveyance of the property.
Harless' motion was approved by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Richard Abraham voting no.

The ordinance for the City Block Development Agreement will be up for a vote at Wednesday's meeting.

You can see the full meeting below.

Published 09:00 PM, Tuesday Aug. 11, 2020
Updated 05:38 PM, Wednesday Aug. 12, 2020



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