Surface parking lot planned behind Whiskey Row facades - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Surface parking lot planned behind Whiskey Row facades

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Developer Todd Blue is getting ready to build a surface parking lot on the vacant ground he owns behind the newly stabilized Whiskey Row facades on W. Main Street, according to a plan filed with Louisville Metro government.

The vacant land in the northwest corner of W. Main and N. First streets is all that Blue continues to own in the block where he once planned a major development called Iron Quarter.

The land, at 101-109 W. Main Street, sits behind the propped-up facades of two old buildings. The facades, while still owned by Blue, were saved by a group of preservation-minded investors who also bought the five adjacent buildings, at 111-119 W. Main, from Blue in 2011. Blue had planned to demolish the buildings.

In 2011, the Waterfront Review Overlay District gave a five-year approval to the design of the parking lot – and the clock won't start until Blue gets a construction permit for the lot, said Mike Kimmel, vice president of the Waterfront Development Corp.

Blue's company, The Iron Quarter LLC, filed a landscape plan for the lot with Louisville Metro Planning & Design Services on Jan. 8. The plan shows a lot with 55 spaces on the half-acre site.

Economic development officials generally don't like to see prime downtown real estate used for surface parking. Blue's lot is a block from the KFC Yum! Center.

But the hope is that the continued redevelopment of W. Main Street will eventually attract a more intense use of the property, Kimmel said.

Developer Steve Poe plans an eight-story Aloft boutique hotel just across Main Street from Whiskey Row.

Meanwhile, the group of local preservation-minded investors is still working on what will become of five historic "Whiskey Row" warehouses at 111-119 W. Main St., next to the land where Blue plans the parking lot.

The investors, led by members of the Brown family that controls Louisville's Brown-Forman Corp., have stabilized the buildings and plan a mixed-use development "with some entertainment / food and beverage focus," attorney Craig Greenberg told a Metro Council committee in June.

Contacted Monday, Greenberg said the investors are still working on the project.

"We have certainly made some progress, but nothing we are ready to announce," he said.

Louisville Metro government contributed $2 million to help the investors save the buildings -- a $1.5 million forgivable loan issued in 2011 and an additional $500,000 last year.

Blue's landscape plan says the parking lot will be "associated with the overall Whiskey Row project," but Greenberg said there is no connection between the redevelopment of the five buildings and the parking lot.

Blue did not return a call for comment at the office of his company, Cobalt Ventures.

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