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Metro Newsroom

Louisville Science Center to Expand with Property Purchase

Thursday January 11, 2007

City’s purchase of neighboring building to make way for education wing

Louisville Science Center RenderingMayor Jerry Abramson today announced the city has agreed to purchase property that will enable the Louisville Science Center to expand. The city is acquiring the historic Alexander Building, at 745 W. Main St., adjacent to the Louisville Science Center.

“The Science Center is the pioneer of our West Main cultural-arts district and this property acquisition will allow it to expand its science-education programming that will help attract more new and repeat visitors,” Abramson said.

The center will begin construction later this year to create a $1 million Science Education Wing in the building’s first floor. The new wing, encompassing more than 5,300 square feet, will include four science-wVideoorkshop labs equipped for “hands-on” student and parent activities. Programs for students and teachers will correspond to the Science Center’s core exhibits focusing on physical, natural and life sciences.

Joan Coleman, president of AT&T Kentucky and chairman of the Science Center’s board of directors, said that this is a huge gift to the Science Center that “positions us well to meet the critical statewide need for improved science and math education. The acquisition of the property is a critical step in ensuring that, as the State Science Center of Kentucky, we will be able to build upon our current programs and continue to have an even greater role in strengthening the science literacy of all Kentuckians.”

The five-story Alexander Building totals nearly 37,000 square feet and has an appraised value of $3 million. The building owner, Phoenix Hotel Development Company, agreed to sell the building to the city for $2 million, paid in interest-free payments of $250,000 over eight years. The mayor will include the first $250,000 in his next budget in May. The city had been paying approximately $230,000 annually to lease office space in the building.

The mayor commended the building owners for a “tremendous gift” to the community.

“In addition to the equivalent of a $1 million contribution, we are able to preserve a historic building and grow one of our anchor community assets. We’re very grateful to these civic-minded business leaders for putting their community first,” Abramson said.

Dennis Clare is managing partner of the Phoenix Hotel Development Company. “My partners and I are pleased and honored to make this gift to the community,” Clare said. “It will not only contribute to the ongoing development of West Main Street, but will also allow the Louisville Science Center to greatly expand its educational facilities.”

The Science Education Wing will be built with public and private funds raised during the Science Center’s “The World Around Us” campaign. The project funding includes:

  • $500,000 U.S. HUD grant, obtained by Sen. Jim Bunning in 2004;
  • $350,000 state funding (portion of a $700,000 allocation) secured by the Jefferson County delegation to the Kentucky General Assembly in 2005; and
  • $150,000 grant from the Paul Ogle Foundation.

Construction is expected to begin in late spring or early summer of this year and be complete by early 2008. The upper floors of the building will be used for office space and provide the opportunity for future Science Center expansion.

“We can now dream on a bigger canvas,” Abramson said.

The Louisville Science Center is a not-for-profit organization that encourages people of all ages to enjoy science, mathematics and technology in a stimulating and educational environment. More than 500,000 people, including 150,000 students grade pre-K through 12, are served by the Science Center annually.

The purchase of the Alexander Building extends a 30-year partnership between the Louisville Science Center and city government. In the 1970s, the city purchased the Carter Dry Goods Building at 727 W. Main St., and adjacent properties in order to relocate and expand what then was the Natural History Museum. The renamed Museum of History and Science opened in 1977 on two floors.

During the past 30 years, the city has partnered with the center’s board of directors to raise more than $25 million for the complex that includes 150,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits, galleries, the IMAX Theatre and nationally recognized educational programs that reach students and teachers in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

Visit the Louisville Science Center online at: