20+ buildings await demolition due to new downtown bridge
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- More than two dozen buildings in both Louisville and southern Indiana still have to be demolished or moved to make way for the new downtown bridge.
Construction on all three phases of the bridge is expected to start in July. That's left business owner Gayle Sallee somewhat scrambling to relocate Kremer's Smoke Shoppe, the tobacco store he's owned since 1982.
His store is among 22 buildings slated to be demolished. Sallee says he hopes to relocate within the area, but would not say how much the state offered him or when he'll be forced to relocate.
"Uh, yes we feel sort of under the gun, yes," Sallee told WDRB News during an interview Tuesday.
When asked what the experience has been like for him, he said: "It's been okay... it's been tough.
"We started in 1914 across the street where the interstate is and we've moved within a couple of blocks two or three times. It's very hard but we'll make it," added Sallee.
In downtown Louisville, five parcels have already been purchased by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, nine more are "in the works," according to Mindy Peterson with C2 Strategic Communication, which is handling public relations for the downtown bridge project. Eight properties have already been purchased in southern Indiana.
Peterson said of the nine properties still in limbo in downtown Louisville - six of those will be acquired through condemnation. The other three currently have "verbal agreements" between the property owner and the state.
Sallee said his business is being torn down to make way for an additional lane of Interstate 65 near hospital curve. The remodeled Kennedy Bridge will carry southbound traffic on I-65. The new bridge, being built to the east, will carry northbound traffic.
The demolition of the Kremer's Smoke Shoppe will be a tough transition for loyal customers like Dave Maples who drives from Borden, Indiana just to buy cigars.
"I started coming here a number of years ago and they've got a good selection. And they take pretty good care of their customers," said Dave Maples, a customer.
Sallee said he hopes to have a smooth transition. "It will be sentimental to a degree, but staying in the area, staying close to where loyal customers are, we will survive," said Sallee.
The Indiana Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that five historic homes in Jeffersonville will be moved on May 29th.
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