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Technicality delays council's North of South vote

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A technicality caused the City-County Council on Monday night to delay a final vote on the massive North of South mixed-use project slated to be built on 14 acres north of the Eli Lilly and Co. corporate campus.

The lead developer of the project, locally based Buckingham Cos., hopes to finance the $155 million project with $86 million in proceeds from the sale of municipal bonds.

A preliminary vote on the bond sale by the council’s economic development committee had been set for the committee’s regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 2, but that meeting was canceled due to inclement weather.

Instead, the committee held a special meeting Feb. 4 to consider the financial package so that the matter could be taken up Monday night by the full council. The committee voted 7-0 in favor of the project, but the city’s failure to post notice of the special meeting at least 48 hours in advance appeared to be a violation of the state’s Open Door Law.

Rather than have that become an issue, the council voted unanimously Monday night to send the financial package back to the committee for consideration. The next committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 16. If the committee once again recommends approval of the measure, the full council could vote at its next meeting on Feb. 28.

“We respect the council's decision and will continue working to move this important project forward,” said Brad Chambers, president and CEO of Buckingham.

The developer has spent three years working with Lilly to formulate plans for North of South. Buckingham, Lilly and the city announced the effort last September, at which time Buckingham expressed hope it could break ground on the project by the end of 2010. It’s not clear how the three-week delay in city approval would affect the project timeline.

The complex, to be built primarily on Lilly owned parking lots at Delaware and South streets, is to include a boutique hotel, a YMCA, apartments and retail and office space.

Lilly, which is partnering with Buckingham on the project, says North of South would help connect the Lilly corporate campus with downtown proper and offer amenities that would help the pharmaceutical firm attract and retain employees.

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