Community

The 30-story, $300 million Omni Hotel development set for downtown Louisville is beginning to take shape.

On Wednesday, city officials and project designers revealed detailed renderings of the coming development. The Omni will include 600 hotel rooms and 225 luxury apartments, and will also bring retail, restaurant and grocery space to a downtown block bound by Second and Third streets and Muhammad Ali Blvd and Liberty Street.

Here’s a look.

omni 1HKS

The top 14 floors of the structure will be luxury apartments, said Eddie Abeyta, lead architect on the project. The lower 14 floors will be the hotel space. The main entrance to the structure will be at Second and Liberty.

Some retail space, including a 20,000 square foot “urban market,” coffee shops and a restaurant, will be on the ground level along the street, Abeyta said.

He added that other restaurants, including a roof top bar, “speakeasy” and a Bob’s Steakhouse, will be located within the structure.

omni 2HKS

Other details include:

  • A 150-seat restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • More than 73,000 square feet of meeting space.
  • An 11,000 square feet pool deck with attached event space.
  • A six level, 850 space parking garage.
omni 3Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Abeyta said he designed the structure with the “essence” and “spirit” of Louisville in mind.

“When I think about Omni, I think about it representing the future of Louisville,” he said. “It wants to honor and respect the past and present situation, but it wants to offer the city something new, a fresh vision.”

City officials hope to have the site cleared and ready for construction by January 1, 2016. The process of clearing that site has garnered a slew of media attention in the recent months—as the current buildings on the site are considered historic and preservationists have been looking to save as much of the buildings as they can.

None of the buildings currently on the site, which include the Old Water Company Building and Odd Fellows Hall, will be included in the final development. The city has committed $1 million toward moving all or part of the Water Company building.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer in January said funding for the Omni project will come via a public-private partnership. This means Omni will pay 52 percent of the development costs—about $150 million—and the remaining 48 percent—$139 million—will come via the city and state through a tax increment financing, or TIF, district.

The TIF district will be isolated to the block where the building will be developed, Fischer added.

The city will issue $120 million in bonds in a 30-year transaction which will be paid primarily in TIF revenues, said Tom Howard, managing director at Commonwealth Economics.

And Fischer on Wednesday said he is excited to see the block, which is now failing to “generate a whole lot for the city in terms of life or revenue,” be transformed into the “premiere facility” in downtown Louisville.

He said building the project will create about 765 prevailing wage jobs and about 300 more jobs will need to be filled to operate the hotel, apartment complex, restaurant and retail space.

An operator has not yet been selected to fill the grocery space, Fischer said. The 20,000 square feet set aside will be much smaller than a standard Kroger, but is expected to provide adequate space for the “latest and greatest” in urban market design.

Fischer said the space will be more like an Eatzi’s than a dedicated grocery.

“There will be some grocery elements involved, but it will be more like an urban market,” he said.

Lead architect Eddie Abeyta said the developer will also be expanding the sidewalk surrounding the site. And Fischer said other details, like where bus stops will be located, are still being worked out.

The plan will still need approval from the Downtown Development Review Overlay board and “the whole set of city administrative steps” before it’s finalized.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.