Monday, October 29, 2007

More Housing on Main Street

Downtown continues to show strength as local developers have announced plans to renovate three buildings along West Main Street into housing and restaurants. The buildings, located at the corner of Main and Second, are adjacent to the proposed Iron Quarter retail and office development, as well as across the street from the planned Louisville Arena. Plans call for up to 32 condominium units as well as a locally owned Irish pub.

The structures feature cast iron facades and were constructed in the late 1800's. The facades will be refurbished and brought back to their original states. Bill Weyland, a local developer with tons of experience, has signed on as the principal architect and as a partner. He plans to have the buildings put onto the National Register of Historic Places so he can get federal tax credits for being involved in the project. Weyland has had several major projects in downtown Louisville where he used the federal tax credits to help finance his buildings.

The project will include an interior courtyard as well as maintain entrances on both Main Street and Washington Street in the rear. The buildings will each have a penthouse unit on the top floors, and will feature an industrial/modern look with exposed brick, hard woods, and stone.

After Todd Blue announced his plans for a major retail and office project in several of the buildings adjacent to this project, we knew it would only be a matter of time before the remaining few structures were snatched up for reuse.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hillard Lyons Work to Begin in November

A Florida developer with local roots has finally closed on a land deal that gives him control of the Hillard Lyons Center on Fourth Street in downtown. The Hillard Lyons Center, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, will soon be seeing a 60 million dollar renovation that will turn the mostly vacant office building into a new Embassy Suites Hotel.

Plans currently call for floors two through six to be renovated into 300 rooms, while the seventh floor would become class A office space. The first floor and basement will see lots of new activity, too. On the first floor plans are calling for three new restaurants and a coffee shop. The restaurants will include a jazz club, a sports bar, as well as a possible nationally branded "upscale" steak or seafood concept. The lobby of the new hotel will retain many of the details from the buildings early years, while bringing in new amenities that today's traveler demand. The basement will include a fitness center with a pool and spa, as well as meeting space and another possible bar.

Earlier this year trouble had been brewing for this project as a current tenant was suing so it would not be forced to leave the building. The tenant is a web-hosting and service company that would have a very difficult time moving their equipment to a new location. However, the developer and the tenant have both said they are in negotiations and fully expect to reach an amicable resolution.

Much of the funding for the new hotel has already been secured through two New York financial-service firms and through the New Markets Tax Credit and several different historic preservation tax credits. The hotel should be up and running by December 2008.

In a second deal, the developer also is eyeballing an adjacent vacant property on Third Street to become a new parking garage and mixed use condo tower. Preliminary talks are being held with different city officials to come to an agreement on who would own and build the parking garage component. PARC has offered to build the structure with tax dollars collected from a TIF district that is being created for the new Cordish Center City proposal. The developer has alluded to the new condo tower being "much taller" than the seven floor Hillard Lyons Center.