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Owensboro mayor predicts boom

By Keith Lawrence The Messenger-Inquirer

OWENSBORO -- "Our economy will continue to grow next year," Mayor Ron Payne said recently. "We'll see another construction boom."

And how!

Three projects are already underway downtown, and at least three more are coming in 2017 - including an office/retail/condo project, a new hotel/apartment complex and a parking garage.

And Gateway Commons, a 200-acre, $335 million lifestyle center planned along U.S. 60 between Ky. 54 and Pleasant Valley Road, is expected to have several hundred thousand square feet of retail space under construction during 2017 with the first stores opening in early 2018.

And those are just the big ticket items.

Matt Hayden, who is developing both Highland Pointe and Gateway Commons in the Ky. 54 area, said: "We expect to announce a new restaurant in Highland Pointe in January or February. And two parties are looking at the Logan's Roadhouse building. It's a grand opportunity for somebody."

He said, "We'll start announcing stores in Gateway Commons during the first quarter of 2017. I feel like we'll have several hundred thousand square feet of retail space under construction by the end of the year. We'll be pushing hard the next eight months to get the streets and utilities in. We already have some streets blacktopped."

Construction on the buildings should start in June or July, Hayden said.

"It's like building a small city," he said.

Downtown

Hayden and Jack Wells have already built the Texas Gas Building and the Holiday Inn Owensboro Riverfront.

They've broken ground on The Enclave at Riverfront Living, a four-story restaurant/condo complex at 101 Frederica St., and they're in the process of stripping the old BB&T Building at Third and Frederica streets to its girders and rebuilding it as The Alorica Building, which will eventually house an 840-job customer service center and Bar Louie, part of a national chain of urban neighborhood bar/restaurants.

"Hopefully, we'll have another tenant going in next to Bar Louie," Hayden said.

Wells said, "We're still looking at moving Alorica into the building in April or early May. We'll still be working on it, but Alorica can move in. The restaurant won't be open until summer."

They'll begin construction of a hotel/apartment complex across Second Street from the Owensboro Convention Center next summer, Wells said.

The hotel, which will be either five or six stories, will have 110 to 120 rooms, he said. The apartment building will have 145 to 160 apartments, Wells said.

Both should open in the summer of 2018, he said.

The complex will engulf the entire block bounded by Second, Third, Locust and Cedar streets.

"We'll announce the name of the brand for the new hotel in about 90 days," Wells said. "It's a national brand. It will be a first-class hotel."

The Enclave, he said, should have people moving into the condos in December 2017.

"We're starting to put in 145 pylons 40 to 50 feet deep this month" to support the building, Wells said.

"People working, eating, living, shopping and being entertained is what makes a downtown successful," he said.

The city plans to build a $9.26 million 400-space parking garage at Second and Locust streets on the east side of Hayden and Wells' new hotel.

Jagoe Homes, which owns the old American Legion property across Veterans Boulevard from Smothers Park, is partnering with Terry Woodward, who owns the parking lot on the east side of the American Legion property, to build a four- or five-story retail, office and condo project there.

Work should begin on the project by mid-summer, Jagoe said recently.

It should take about a year to 18 months to complete the project, he said.

Jagoe Homes is also planning to start construction this winter on Brook Field, a 131-home subdivision it is developing in the 1500 block of Daniels Lane -- near Owensboro Health Regional Hospital.

"The streets are already in," Jagoe said. "We'll start building houses there this winter."

'Continue to grow'

"We'll see significant activity on Ky. 54 and downtown," Payne said. "Tourism will continue to grow. I just feel like we're going to get more and more attention from outside the area. We're going to continue to grow. How fast remains to be seen."

He said, "We've planted seeds and things are starting to come out of the ground. I feel good about it. Owensboro is well on its way to being successful. The big issue for the next two years will be the budget until these things start producing revenue."

"Our outlook for 2017 is one of optimism," said Candance Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce. "Large construction projects going on in different corridors in Greater Owensboro are creating growth and confidence in our regional commercial and investment climate and opportunities."

She said, "We continue to see slow, yet steady, growth over most of our sectors here locally. This positively impacts our small businesses as well as the other sectors in our membership."

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