Preservationists launch drive to save historic buildings on Omni - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Preservationists launch drive to save historic buildings on Omni Hotel site

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Preservationists are hoping to combine the old with the new on the site of the proposed downtown Omni Hotel.

Preservation Louisville has launched an online petition drive to try and save the two historic buildings on this site, including the old Louisville Water Company.

Demolition crews are already tearing down two of the buildings on the Omni Site; the old Falls City Theater building and the Morrissey garage.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the buildings were in danger of collapse.

“What I did not want to see is buildings collapse with people inside of them and being killed,” said Fischer.

Marianne Zickuhr, executive director of Preservation Louisville was unhappy with that decision -- believing the facades could have been saved.

“I was truly hoping that we could come to some sort of compromise,” said Zickuhr.

Now she's turning her attention to the remaining historic buildings; the old Water Company and Oddfellows Hall, both built in the early 20th century.

“To keep Louisville's sense of place, we've got to protect these historic assets,” said Zickuhr.

Zickuhr wants the older sections of the buildings incorporated into Omni's design for the $290 million-dollar project.

“They could be, for instance, one of those restaurants that the Omni is talking about providing. Or maybe it could be the spa that they want to provide. Or possibly that grocery store that everyone wants to see. There's a lot of different ideas,” said Zickuhr.

“What I want to see is a good process, a good discussion with Omni, with some give-and-take on what is the cost of the various options that could take place with this building,” said Fischer.

Fischer says negotiations with Omni about design have not yet begun.

“Clearly, when you take a look at the fabric of our city, we want to preserve as much as we can when it makes sense to do so. The process is just beginning,” he said.

Fischer says there will be public input, but Zickuhr is concerned about what she says has been a lack of transparency so far.

“The citizens of Louisville are paying for nearly half of this project. And in doing so, I believe we get a say as to what we would like to see on this block,” she said.

The mayor says the Oddfellows Hall falls outside the Omni footprint and will likely be saved. There are no guarantees about the Louisville Water Company building.

Omni did not respond to WDRB's request for comment.

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