With each whisper of an update from The Cameron Group, excitement builds in Radcliff about a north-end retail and commercial development revival.

Matt Valenti of Louisville has been making progress toward a reimagining of commercial property just outside Fort Knox’s Wilson Road gate. The area known as Redmar Plaza long ago became a vacant blight, but could be revitalized with hotels, dining and boutique shops if the ideas and financing mesh.

Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall is planning to introduce the Tax Increment Financing concept.

Used successfully across Ken­tucky by municipalities as a deal-making incentive for commercial, retail and civic developments, the TIF rebates a portion of new tax money generated on the property to help the developer pay for infrastructure.

In essence, it says the government would have none of this new revenue without the developer’s efforts so it’s an agreement to share the risk and the reward.

In the case of Redmar, the 14 or so acres generates very little tax revenue apart from property taxes. With some new hotels and upscale apartments, the property tax income would increase thanks to higher evaluations plus new revenue would come from hotel room taxes, occupational taxes and sales tax.

Add a few restaurants and some retail and the tax revenue climbs further. Because the TIF pays the developer more based on the scope of the growth, there’s an obvious incentive to making every corner of the property pay.

If the TIF works well, the de­vel­oper foots the price for construction while the rebate covers parking, curbs and gutters, water and sewer lines, exterior lighting and similar amenities.

But the big pay off is for the local economy. This project is critical for the entire region which benefits from the military post and its employment.

Fort Knox is the No. 1 driver of the local economy and this potential development on its doorstep is a game changer. First impressions matter and quality of life perceptions about the area will be influenced by this project.

The clear message of the past decade is the military is changing. If Fort Knox is to grow and reach its full potential, neighboring communities need to step up.

If you believe the reawakening of downtown Elizabethtown was an economic development tool important to how business, industry and all newcomers perceive the city – and it was and continues to be ­– certainly this development is similarly an important mission that should be of interest to all.

The potential is here. A plan is in the works. The developer has extended his options. It’s time to move forward together.

(1) comment

LoneVoice

That’s a lot of “IF”s, I hope there is a solid plan to make this dream come true. We really need some new small manufacturing and industry in the area and don’t see any movement in that arena at all.

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