Talk about a development to erase the Redmar Plaza blight is building excitement in Radcliff.

The enthusiasm about a multi-use development to create a new centerpiece for Radcliff’s north-end retail community should reinvigorate the community’s link with Fort Knox. This property off North Wilson Road and Knox Boulevard is just outside the Wilson Road gate and therefore makes a first impression on many Fort Knox residents and guests.

The idea the dilapidated buildings could be erased is long-awaited good news. The idea it will be replaced by a $94.8-million investment in hotels, apartment houses, retail, restaurants and office space can feel a little dreamlike.

And some skeptics cannot overlook unfulfilled visions elsewhere. The Gateway Crossing development on the south end of Radcliff hoped to build a multifaceted facility around traffic created by a Walmart Neighborhood Market and its related gasoline station. The only other business to settle there was the community’s second Burger King.

Those developers are out of the picture and the Gateway Crossing property remains on the market.

It’s only fair to evaluate the Cameron Group on its own merits.

The company involved in the Redmar area project is a proven commodity in commercial development and management.

Based in Camillus, New York, it developed malls in Leominster, Massa­chu­setts, Auburn, New York, and Plantation, Florida. With shifts in the realities of retail, Cameron Group has shifted to multi-use developments integrating accommodations and housing as a means to create a ready-made customer base to attract the stores and eateries. The concept is working at various levels in its developments across New York state, nearby Bayonne, New Jersey, and in Mission, Kansas.

Here, the company sees untapped potential.

While the potential is big, Matt Valenti, who is the lead representative for Cameron Group here, is not letting the promises get out of hand. The designs are detailed but he describes a meticulous step-by-step approach necessary to make this work.

It will take time, which means patience on the part of residents anxious to see progress.

Radcliff officials, in particular Mayor J.J. Du­vall, have been working with Valenti for more than a year. It’s reached a critical stage where an incentive package is being put in place.

The city has conducted two public hearings with intention of establishing a tax incremental financing district as outlined by state law. It will need buy-in from state officials, which could be months off yet.

The deal hinges on these steps. The land purchase won’t move forward until this goes through. Existing buildings on the land will be spared the wrecking ball until it’s a done deal.

The TIF puts Radcliff at no risk. The city only commits in the 20-year agreement to use new revenue generated on the property to reimburse the developer for infrastructure needs such as road improvements, security lighting, utility extension and the like. State approval of a similar sharing of sales tax is a critical element too.

But if there’s no new tax revenue, there’s no payout on the part of the city. The TIF plan will not threaten the city’s budget and will not pull resources away from other parts of the community.

That’s the whole idea about the TIF. The incentive money is created by the developer’s own investment and work. It’s just an agreement temporarily to share in the proceeds to get the work started.

This is the most significant effort to awaken this key retail corner in two decades. This is the time to offer encouragement and prayers for its success.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.


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