The New York Times called it “frat-tastic” and “overwrought, under-thought,” but a new study calls it a success.
The study requested by Mayor Greg Fischer and conducted by the University of Louisville shows that the development, which is run by the Baltimore-based Cordish Companies, will cost the city and taxpayers about $30.7 million, but generate about $81 million in taxes and other revenue in 30 years of operation.
Some information that Cordish claimed was proprietary has made exact calculations impossible, and the study’s author has cast doubt on overly-optimistic return on investment statements, but, even some critics of Cordish say they see the benefit of the development, even if it’s not a $50 million gain.
“[When the project began,] They had a sincere need to create some activity downtown and I think they’ve done that. So I give them the credit,” says Councilman Kelly Downard, who has been critical of further loans to Cordish. “Whether it’s worth $31 million…who knows what it was worth, but I think it has by and large been successful.”
The study further says the development has created 500 permanent jobs and has given the hotel and hospitality industry in the city a major boost. Fischer commissioned the study after a nearly one million dollar forgivable loan for further enhancements to the area fell through, and Downard says the report shows the development is successful enough to be self-sustaining.
“There is no one else that we give money to for entertainment and development like we do this. I think it’s time for them to do like everyone else does,” he says.
A Cordish development that would extend Fourth Street Live is in the works, but has been stalled since the recession.
Downard says Cordish should be held to the same standards of transparency and risk as local developers.
Fourth Street Live has come under criticism for not featuring enough local or minority-owned businesses and for alleged racial discrimination at clubs in the development.