Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Iron Quarter

Todd Blue announced today that he and his company will soon invest more than 50 million dollars to build a mixed use office and retail complex in downtown Louisville. The project, to be named The Iron Quarter, will occupy the block bounded by West Main to the south, Washington to the north, First to the east and Second to the west. This plan replaces an earlier redevelopment plan that had been hatched in 2000 by another local developer.

Blue sees huge changes for the property, including a 14 story office tower (that can be expanded to 23 floors if the need arises), a parking garage, retail space, restaurant space, and bar space. The project will be largely pedestrian oriented and will help bridge the new Louisville Arena to residential development in the West Main neighborhood.

The project will require the demolition of the interiors of the buildings, but all the historic facades will remain and be restored to their original lustre. Some people are critical of this practice, but I feel it is perfectly acceptable. Buildings have to constantly change to be usable - and these buildings simply do not have floor plans that still work for the uses of today. The main consideration is for the facades of the buildings - and those will be perfectly restored. You will never be able to tell that the buildings ever fell into disrepair and they will look as if they had been continually used for more than a century.

The most exciting aspect of the project is perhaps one of the smaller components - the retail. Retail has been lacking in downtown for decades, and this is the first project that promises at least some retailing options such as clothing, gaming, home decor, et cetera, in the CBD. Hopefully this portends of things to come.

This announcement is incredibly exciting for Louisville. This block was one of the very last major eyesores of downtown. And it has been a constant reminder of how much work downtown still has to do to revive itself.

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