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October 12, 2013

A DEVELOPING SITUATION: Deal for hotel, restaurants progressing in Jeffersonville

JEFFERSONVILLE — Vacant land just to the east of Interstate northbound will soon house a full-service restaurant, two fast food restaurants and at least one hotel with 250 rooms.

An agreement on terms of a deal to develop more than 4 acres of property at the corner of 10th and Spring streets in Jeffersonville — which included a $580,000 purchase price — was approved at a special Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission meeting Friday. Redevelopment Commission Attorney Les Merkley said the purchase price was equal to the amount the redevelopment commission had invested in the property.

The commission previously chose Lexington-based White Reach Development to devise a plan that would transform the property into a shopping center with several restaurants and some retail tenants, but anchored by at least one hotel.

The White Reach development plan originally presented  in June to the redevelopment commission called for two hotels, two stand-alone restaurants and a Starbucks. Letters of interest for potential tenants included Zaxby’s, McDonald’s, Cracker Barrel and hotel chains owned by Hilton.

Steve Reach, managing member of White Reach Development, said the plan hasn’t changed much.

Spelled out in the Falls Landing mixed-use development project terms sheet are plans for at least one full-service national restaurant chain, which listed Zaxby’s and Cracker Barrel as potential tenants; two fast food restaurants, which offered McDonald’s and Taco Bell as possible tenants; one or more hotels with an aggregate of 250 rooms, naming Drury Inn & Suites and Marriot Residence Inns as possibilities; and interconnected pedestrian and bicycle paths.

Reach said many of businesses the developer had letters of agreement with are still willing to move forward to locate at the site.

“We couldn’t really do letters of intent until we got the property under control,” he said.

Once the development agreement is signed, Reach said he expects that most of those companies will agree to letters of intent.

“The hotel brand [and] what style hotel is really the only unknown,” he said.

Before the terms sheet was approved by the redevelopment commission, several changes were requested. Those include a credit to be given to developer of $130,000 instead of $100,000 if a physical defect is found on the property, if it is confirmed by an engineering firm and if the developer prepares a report on the condition of the property, and a prohibition on billboards was removed.

A development agreement will be the next step to allow White Reach to move forward on its plans. The redevelopment commission agreed to let board President R. Monty Snelling sign the development agreement as long as there are no additional alterations to the terms sheet.

Reach said he did not know when the company would be able to break ground and begin construction, but said he expects a lot of the answers in 60 to 90 days. He said the developer has already begun working with architects and engineers and is conducting a consolidation survey on the site.

“We did that with the access agreement [from the city] while the development agreement was being worked out,” Reach said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to break ground on some of the tenants that have smaller footprints over the winter.”

Reach added that he would expect the soonest construction would be able to start is early 2014.

“We’re getting pushed by the retailers wanting to get open as well,” he said.

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