Community

A restaurant, a park and relocation to West Louisville were among the rejected proposals for the old Louisville Water Company building, which is expected to be dismantled soon to make way for a major development.

Metro officials on Thursday released the details of the three rejected proposals to save the building from demolition.

The century-old building, once the headquarters of the Louisville Water Company, sits on the site of the proposed $300 million Omni Hotel & Residences development. In May, Mayor Greg Fischer asked private investors for proposals to relocate all or parts of the building.

Preservationists sought to save the historic structure on Third Street near Muhammad Ali Boulevard. But last week, Fischer announced that no “workable” proposals had been submitted.

The building’s facades, portico and sidewall sections will be “carefully removed” and put into storage, Fischer said in a letter to residents. Within 12 to 18 months, Louisville Metro will again solicit proposals, this time for the reassembly and reuse of the materials.

“This will allow sufficient time for interested parties to fully develop a proposal and business plan that will make the best use of the Water Company building and will hopefully make it productive and relevant for generations to come,” Fischer said in the letter.

Here are the details of the three rejected proposals.

Founders Square

A Florida company proposed moving the building’s facade and sidewall section to Founders Square at Fifth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

The company, Hudson Holdings, has purchased two historic downtown Louisville structures in the past year — the Starks and Republic buildings — and has multimillion-dollar redevelopment plans for each.

Hudson Holdings proposed incorporating the facade and sidewalls of the Water Company building into a new structure, creating a “functional and sustainable world-class event space.”

The space would have accommodated 300 people for dinner and as many as 400 people for conventions, according to the company’s proposal. The proposal would have kept about two-thirds of Founders Square as a landscaped park.

The total cost of the proposal was estimated to be $4.6 million.

Hudson Holdings proposed contributing $500,000 to the project in addition to the city’s contribution of $1 million. The company also sought to finance the remainder through a revenue bond.

Hudson Holdings requested a $4.6 million bond to be paid back over 30 years with a 6 percent interest rate. Fischer has said a workable proposal must not require more financial investment from the city than the $1 million commitment.

In the proposal, Hudson Holdings said it expected the development to generate an $11.1 million economic impact and create at least seven jobs with an annual salary of just more than $50,000 annually.

One Proposal, Two Options

A South Louisville-based company presented two options to the city for moving portions of the building.

In one option, Mac Sawyers House and Building Movers proposed relocating the building’s portico and entire front facade to Founders Square. The company wanted to move the sections to Founders Square to create an outdoor public gathering space with a patio for seating.

The company said in its proposal that the plan “creates a permanent monument” to the building. Metro government would have been responsible for upkeep and maintenance of the portico and facade once the relocation project was completed.

The company estimated the move would cost $1 million.

A rendering of one of Mac Sawyers House and Building Movers' proposals.Mac Sawyers House and Building Movers

A rendering of one of Mac Sawyers House and Building Movers’ proposals.

Its other proposal was to relocate the building’s portico and sidewall sections to one of two locations — 123 Second St. or Founders Square — to be incorporated into a restaurant development.

Mac Sawyers House and Building Movers said it was developing a restaurant plan with Havana Rumba owner Marcos Lorenzo for the space.

But the second option would likely cost more than $1 million, the company said in the proposal.

Relocate to Russell

A proposal from the Portland Business Association and the Concerned Area Russell Residents looked at moving the building to Russell in West Louisville, according to a July 24 letter submitted by John Owen, vice president of the PBA.

In the proposal, Owen said the reuse of the building in the western portion of the city would be a “tremendous win-win for us all.” But he did not provide details on the plan’s cost or propose a process for relocating the structure. Fischer specifically requested both in his solicitation of proposals.

Russell is undergoing a revitalization effort funded through a federal Choice Neighborhoods Grant.

What’s Next

Meanwhile, the $300 million Omni Hotel & Residences is moving forward as planned. The next step for the project will be for developers to apply for and obtain construction permits, which they’re expected to do in October.

Jeff Mosley, deputy director of Louisville Forward, has said developers expect to break ground at the start of 2016 and complete the project by March 2018.

Here are the proposals:

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