GEORGETOWN — Mayor Karen Tingle-Sames says a proposed 6,500-seat arena and retail center could bring hundreds of jobs to Scott County and lure visitors from surrounding cities. The mayor said it could also be the biggest economic boom for the city since Toyota made Georgetown its home.
Tingle-Sames says the arena and The Shoppes at Equestrian Crossing retail center, between Wal-Mart and the Toyota plant, would create about 930 jobs. She said the city would benefit from payroll and property taxes, but exact figures were not readily available Tuesday afternoon.
A new interchange off Interstate 75 would relieve traffic on Cherry Blossom Way near Wal-Mart, Tingle-Sames said.
"The idea is to make Georgetown a destination. And this project will do that," she said.
Officials say the project is still in its infant stage, so it's too early to discuss specific dates. However, the ball is rolling.
On Oct. 19, the Georgetown City Council approved a tax increment financing district for the development project. Tax increment financing — commonly called TIF — allows state and local governments to fund public improvement projects and pay them back with the tax revenues the development generates.
Now that the city has signed off on the TIF district, the developer must submit an application to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority for approval, said John Cooper, managing partner for Capital Link Consultants in Frankfort.
Cooper said the project will continue in its planning phase, and he does not expect to hear from the state until the end of February 2010. Once they receive that information they will be able to iron out more details, Cooper said.
Asked when she would like to see the project come to fruition, Tingle-Sames replied, "yesterday." But the mayor said the city will probably not see a groundbreaking in 2010.
The mayor said an organization would have to come in and manage the arena — which could host concerts, graduations and proms — as a business for the project to be successful. She said the arena should never have to be subsidized by the city or county governments.
She said the arena would offer a venue for events that are too small for Rupp Arena in Lexington. The Georgetown facility also would stimulate the local economy as visitors are drawn to stores and restaurants downtown and in other parts of the community.
"We want to give them a reason to come to Georgetown and stay awhile," Tingle-Sames said.