Thursday February 18, 2010
Whiskey Row Lofts, downtown Louisville’s future home of 39 apartments and at least four major restaurants, announced today that all financing has been committed and renovation is beginning.
Stock Yards Bank & Trust has committed the bulk of the financing, including $7.2 million in loan funds and over $7.8 million in federal and state tax credit equity for the development. Louisville Community Development Bank has allocated over $15 million in federal New Market Tax Credits which will serve as the basis for part of Stockyards Bank’s equity investment.
An additional $900,000 in debt financing has been committed from the Downtown Development Corporation’s Housing Fund along with $200,000 from the City of Louisville’s METCO loan fund.
These financing commitments are major news in the current economic climate, where many commercial real estate developments are stalled for lack of bank financing. They are further evidence of the economic impact the new downtown arena is having on the surrounding downtown area.
Whiskey Row Lofts will comprise approximately 110,000 square feet of mixed-use development encompassing 38 apartments, live-work lofts and penthouse suites along with 4-5 new restaurants and 3 unique special event spaces. The buildings will be renovated to federal historic standards for rehabilitation. Special features such as an interior courtyard, terraces, balconies and internal parking for residences along with restoration of the original 19th century monumental staircase will make this project unique in the marketplace.
Three restaurants are already committed to the project. In addition to Bearno’s by the Bridge which will remain in its current location, Sol Aztecas Bar and Grill will occupy approximately 3,700 sq ft in the west bay of the Burwinkle-Hendershot building. Saul Garcia who owns the Los Aztecas and Sol Aztecas restaurants in Louisville, will operate this new venue at Whiskey Row Lofts.
In addition, a lease has just been signed with Hog ‘n Char Whiskey Saloon for over 5,900 sq ft in the Burwinkle-Hendershot building. Michael and Steven Ton, whose Basa restaurant was nominated by James Beard as a best new restaurant, and Brett Davis, one of Louisville’s two Master Sommeliers, will operate a restaurant serving world class barbecue and Southern comfort food. It will also pay homage to the history of the building by focusing on classic whiskey cocktails.
Construction on Whiskey Row Lofts is starting now. The first restaurants will open in Fall 2010 – in time for the first basketball games in the Downtown Arena.
Residential units will include live-work units, loft style apartments, and 2-story penthouse suites overlooking the Arena plaza. They will be available for occupancy in early 2011.
Whiskey Row Lofts is being developed jointly by Bill Weyland of CITY Properties Group, Valle Jones of Mayin, LLC, and Stephen Jones of Greensward, Inc. The General Contractor is Bosse Mattingly Constructors.
The corner anchor of the development and the Whiskey Row block is the gorgeous limestone Beaux Arts building at 131 W. Main Street. Built in 1877, it was originally the headquarters of the L&N Railroad. The second Whiskey Row Lofts building is next door at 127 W. Main. It was built in 1869 by John Andrewartha who designed Louisville’s original City Hall and became a warehouse for the Bonnie Bros. Distillery and whiskey wholesaler. Many other whiskey businesses had their offices and warehouses along this block in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The area’s local historic name was Whiskey Row.
The development represents not only Louisville’s business and architectural history, but also the history of one family. In the 1980s, Lawrence L Jones III, a law partner at Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs and a renowned magician who appeared on Ed Sullivan and other national TV shows, bought four buildings on Main Street with a business partner. Their intent was to create a mixed-use live-work development. After renovating 8,600 square feet at 131 Main Street for a restaurant and small theater, Jones performed a magic act there for over 14 years, entertaining tourists and residents and receiving glowing reviews in the Courier-Journal, Louisville Magazine and other publications.
After his death in 2003, his eldest daughter and youngest son (Valle and Stephen Jones) bought controlling interest in the building, negotiated for 3 years to buy the adjacent “Burwinkle Hendershot” building, and partnered with Bill Weyland of City Properties to continue their father’s vision for downtown Louisville.
The historic renovation of these 2 buildings will tie the new Louisville Downtown Arena to the recently opened Patrick O’Shea’s Irish pub next door and will bring Whiskey Row back to life as an important part of Louisville, both its legacy and its future.