Tuesday September 28, 2004
As Louisville takes center stage with a national historic preservation conference, Mayor Jerry Abramson today announced a $20 million plan to redevelop two city-owned historic buildings – the former YWCA and the Wright-Taylor Building – between 3rd and 4th streets along Chestnut Street.
Noted Louisville developer Bill Weyland of Design Build Partners, who spearheaded the successful Glassworks Lofts project, has committed to renovate the buildings under a development agreement with Louisville Metro Government.
“With the momentum of downtown development and the ever-increasing demand for urban living, the time is right for the redevelopment of these historic buildings,” Abramson said at a news conference atop Glassworks Lofts overlooking downtown Louisville.
The announcement comes at the start of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference in Louisville this week. Thousands of people will tour dozens of historic properties throughout Louisville and the surrounding region as part of the conference.
Phase I of the $20 million redevelopment, called the Off-Broadway Lofts, will include the former YWCA building at 3rd and Chestnut and the old Wright-Taylor Building at 611-617 S. 4th Street. The YWCA building was constructed in 1924 as the home for the Elks Club. It later became the Henry Clay Hotel and eventually, the Y. The Wright-Taylor Building was built in 1928 and was the site of several commercial businesses during 4th Street’s heyday.
The project will include 60 market-rate apartments (55,000 square feet), 25,000 square feet of retail space, 35,000 square feet of tour/event space and 15,000 square feet of office space, Weyland said.
In the late 1980s, as mayor of the former city government, Abramson led the effort to preserve the buildings, purchasing the Wright-Taylor Building for $900,000, and the Y for $1 million. Design Build Partners will purchase the properties for $850,000 and will be credited for the cost of any necessary environmental clean-up. Design Build Partners will use historic tax credits and private financing for the project.
“I am thrilled to be engaged in another redevelopment story in downtown Louisville,” said Weyland, partner of Design Build Partners. “We have a very livable downtown and are seeing the critical mass that makes urban living a reality.”
Phase II, which also is part of the development agreement, will be the redevelopment of the site at the southeast corner of 4th and Chestnut Streets. Plans for the site are being finalized.
Abramson said the historic preservation conference is a great opportunity to focus the national spotlight on Louisville’s historic preservation heritage. “We’re proud the National Trust has chosen our community to explore and discuss how we’ve worked to preserve our past and make it a meaningful part of our future,” he said.
Other events related to the National Trust’s conference this week:
• Special Evening of History, September 28, 5:30 p.m.,
• Seelbach Hotel Medallion Ballroom (for tickets, call Kentucky Heritage Council at 502/564-7005 x. 112)
• Grant award ceremony for the U.S. Marine Hospital and Portland Wharf, September 29, 3 p.m., at the U.S. Marine Hospital Ribbon-cutting for Public Access Center (ABC’s of Preservation), September 30, 10 a.m., at the American Life Building. Center will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 12p.m. on Saturday, October 2.
• 2004 National Preservation Awards, September 30, 5:30 p.m., at the Louisville Palace (for tickets, call Kentucky Heritage Council at 502/564-7005 x. 112)
• Closing Plenary, October 2, 10 a.m., W.L. Lyons Brown Theatre (for tickets, call Kentucky Heritage Council at 502/564-7005 x. 112) Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, considered one of the most effective preservation advocates, will be a featured speaker.