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OWENSBORO, KY-With a vote recently to approve a plan for a $390 million, mixed-use project through a public-private partnership, the City Council will now apply to the State Tax Increment Financing Commission to use TIF funds for the project. The Gateway Commons plan, on 263-acres to be annexed at the I-64/I-65 corridor off Highway-54, includes $180 million of TIF funds for public infrastructure and buildings, and $210 of private investment by developer Gulfstream Enterprises.

The public money will including funding for a 6,000-seat arena and a 135,000-sf convention center. Gulfstream will finance the construction of 630,000-sf of retail space, a national-name, 250-room hotel, 150,000-sf of medical and professional offices, 150 condos and 150 apartments.

City manager Bob Whitmer refused to comment on the project. Mayor Tom Watson and Gulfstream partner Matt Hayden did not calls by press time. According to the development agreement, an ordinance created by the council approval creates the Owensboro Municipal Improvement Corp., which will enter into a local participation agreement with the city to gather the incremental taxes generated by the development area. The vote was made to get the ball rolling quickly, because as of Jan. 1, the state will place more restrictions and requirements on TIF applications. “The Owensboro region is an extremely challenging area in which to develop the kind of public facilities that can attract tourism and entertainment dollars to the region,” according to a city project exhibit. “The project could not be developed in the region without the incremental tax revenues.” However, two council members voted against the project, saying the project could be built without TIF funds, a factor that the state may consider if denying the TIF.

Though the council approval barely passed a 3-2 vote, the community is hoping the project will have benefits for the city. “The city has determined that the project will enhance the development of Owensboro, add unique offerings to its citizens, increase tourism, create jobs and generate additional tax revenues for the city,” according to the development agreement.

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