Community

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is assembling a new task force in an attempt to further the city’s historic preservation efforts.

The formation of the historic preservation advisory task force comes in the wake of the controversial Omni Hotel and Residences development, which resulted in the demolition of the Old Water Company Building.

The historic structure stood for more than a century, and the fight between preservationists seeking to save the building and city officials bent on the Omni project’s promised economic development boon spanned months.

Crews are now busy at work erecting the 30-plus-story Omni from the block bound by Third and Second streets and Muhammad Ali Boulevard and Liberty Street.

The city’s newest task force will work to prevent any future quarrels between preservationists and developers, said Will Ford, a spokesman for the city’s economic development department.

“The ultimate goal is to be proactive, to not have a situation like we did with Omni,” he said.

Ford said the new task force would work to ensure historic buildings become part of future developments in Louisville. To do so, Ford said the task force will catalog the city’s stock of historic buildings and recommend policies to promote preservation and reuse in future developments.

City officials in September of last year launched a new initiative to reexamine its preservation and redevelopment efforts for historic structures.

Fischer announced the new task force Monday morning outside the Ouerbacker mansion on 17th Street.

“With the creation of this task force, we as a city will now have a better, proactive way to catalog our historic resources and identify best practices for adaptive reuse,” Fischer said in a news release.

The new task force will consist of city officials, developers, preservation professionals and citizens. As many as 21 people will be on the commission, Ford said.

The city already has a historic landmarks and preservation districts commission. The 12 appointed members of the commission are tasked with overseeing any changes to locally designated historic structures or within historic preservation districts, like Old Louisville and Clifton, said Robert Vice, chair of the commission.

Vice said the new task force would have a broader focus on historic preservation than the commission he chairs.

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