Editorial: Downtown project takes another step toward completion

December 22, 2004

The sale last week of the old Hub building was a major accomplishment in a remarkable community effort to fill the gaping hole left in Danville's downtown by the closing of the old department store in 1995.

Audrey and Richard Haisfield of Woodford County plan to develop retail and office space in the building, which sits on the southeast corner of Third and Main streets in the heart of the city's historic downtown.

A group of local doctors announced last spring that they would purchase the adjacent structure, the old Gilcher Hotel building, and turn it into an out-patient surgery center.

Both development projects were made possible by the decision to build a parking garage with local, state and federal funds on the city-owned lot in the rear of the two buildings.


Credit for bringing this project to the verge of actual construction and renovation must be shared by many people, but we would be remiss if we did not attempt to identify at least some of the major players in putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

Certainly, the Haisfields and the local doctors group behind the Central Kentucky Ambulatory Surgery Center of Danville deserve credit for risking their own funds on this project, and we wish them well in their endeavors. The long-term success of the redevelopment project now lies largely in their hands.

Current Danville Mayor John W.D. Bowling must get credit for obtaining a $960,000 grant to purchase the buildings. Bowling obtained the grant while he was serving as state representative.

And former mayor Alex Stevens, and the city commissioners who served with him, should be praised for having the political courage to accept the grant after it was turned down by Boyle Fiscal Court.

Speaking of grants, Julie Wagner of Heart of Danville led the way in obtaining state and federal grants for the parking structure.

By the same token, Janet Hamner, president of Third Street Development Corporation, which actually owned the buildings, was equally relentless in her determination to find private developers for the property despite many setbacks along the way.

Finally, credit must be given to the taxpayers who have taken the risk in bringing the project to this point. It looks now as if local taxpayers will get a nice return on their investment from the payroll and property taxes that the redevelopment project will generate.

Even so, it would seem that Danville taxpayers also should have a say in how the $575,000 received from the sale of the two buildings will be spent. For instance, the money could be used to help pay for the parking structure, thus reducing the amount of bonds that must be issued for the project.

Perhaps Third Street Development has other ideas. It would be nice to hear them.

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