Business and Development

A historic Irish Hill warehouse is being demolished this week following an inspector’s warning that it posed a safety risk.

The Nelson Distillery Warehouse was built in 1896 and sat on the corner of Lexington Road and Payne Street. According to a city report obtained by WDRB, the site was used by various companies before it was abandoned in 1979.

It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 and designated an Individual Landmark in 2020.

Bamboo Equity Partners, a Missouri-based real estate investment firm, asked Louisville Metro for permission to demolish the building in July, according to the city report. They said they intend to use the property, which is owned by the local group Barrel House Lofts, LLC, to build apartments and storefronts.

Jacob Munoz | wfpl.org

By early Thursday afternoon, demolition workers had gutted the historic Nelson Distillery Warehouse in Irish Hill to its core.

In the report published Aug. 19, city officials acknowledged the warehouse’s state of decay but recommended not tearing it down, saying an Individual Landmark would first need to pose an immediate threat to public safety.

However, a week later, Metro Codes and Regulations staff declared the building was an imminent danger, according to an affidavit obtained by WFPL News. That led to the city issuing an emergency order for the warehouse’s demolition.

A local company called Grasshoppers Landclearing and Tree Service was hired to demolish the building. According to Caitlin Bowling, a Louisville Forward spokesperson, Bamboo Equity was in charge of finding the contractor.

Jacob Munoz | wfpl.org

Demolition workers created a massive pile of bricks and debris as they tore down the Nelson Distillery Warehouse.

By early Thursday afternoon, workers had taken down most of the building, leaving the warehouse’s inner skeleton intact. Bowling said the demolition was expected to wrap up Thursday. 

An attorney for Bamboo Equity told WDRB that the demolition would be privately funded.

Jacob is WFPL's Business and Development Reporter.