As two residential developments await construction in the New Castle area, the same developer is now proposing revitalization efforts in Downtown New Castle.

While some council members agree the downtown district needs a facelift, others aren't so sure the project could come to fruition.

Real-estate developer Metrovitalization plans to invest $52 million to build a deluxe apartment complex at the corner of East North and North Mill Street in Downtown New Castle, called Preeminence. The complex would include a gym and rooftop garden deck with 24-hour security.

"Downtown New Castle has so many attributes," explained Ricky Trinidad, President of Metrovitalization. "There are so many positive qualities of the city. There's a creek that runs through downtown and it is just a beautiful place. But the buildings aren't doing it justice."

Trinidad promises affordable rent at deluxe apartment units at $850-$1,800 per month. He believes surrounding property values will go up while also creating a ripple effect towards downtown revitalization.

Trinidad said some challenges with the project include finding funding, potential infrastructure upgrades, and his observation of no recent development in the downtown area.

"It seems a little bit off to me," said Eduardo Bogaert, New Castle Councilman during Monday evening's meeting with Trinidad. Councilman Bogaert is concerned most of the work has yet to be done on the site, including a lack of market testing and completed no term sheet from a bank.

Trinidad told the council he can't get a term sheet until he gets site control, which must be approved by the city. 

Bogaert asked Trinidad for references for other developments he's completed, as he's leery of Trindidad's past financial struggles, including filing for bankruptcy after his previous company fell into $87 million in debts in Miami, Florida.

"Mr. Trinidad will have to prove very eloquent and very hard detailed proof that he has done this in the past and he has completed an actual project," Bogaert added. "I'm walking very carefully in regards to any type of agreement with Mr. Trinidad because unfortunately, the track record isn't there. New Castle has been scrutinized and has gone through hardship. The last thing we need is for someone to take advantage of our city."

Councilman Terry Rodgers echoed Bogaert's concerns. Mayor Mark Elisco welcomes new development with open arms but doesn't want New Castle to continue to be a "test town" of failed development.

"Something like this downtown would be the start of a whole new revelation," Mayor Elisco said to the crowd and Trinidad during Monday's meeting.

"What he needed from us was an agreement that if he gets to funding, then we deed the land to him," Mayor Elisco told 21 News. "So that's the question we need to entertain."

"We need to protect ourselves because we've been victims of unscrupulous investors before," Elisco added. "So we need to make sure that this doesn't happen again but I'm on board with what he said Monday. Our meeting with him on Monday was to simply listen to his proposal and discuss it to see if we can take it any further. The proposal is very interesting."

Mayor Elisco credited Trinidad for already investing in the downtown district, by setting up an office space along East North Street.

Trinidad told the council he would agree to control measures to ensure a timeline for the project is reached.

The council did not vote Monday but plans to speak with Lawrence County commissioners on whether to approve the development to move forward.

"Since the property is a repository, we'd have to meet with the county to see if they agree with whatever we decide to do," Elisco concluded.

Mayor Elisco said he plans to speak with commissioners within the coming days.