LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The downtown Omni Hotel project has cleared a major hurdle.

It took more than 8 hours over 2 meetings, but a key committee gave the Omni Project the green light. It also means the old Louisville Water Co. building is going away.

By a 6-2 vote, the Downtown Development Review Overlay Committee approved the plans for the $300-million Omni Hotel Project.

Proposed changes to upgrade the design along Third St., including new retail space, were enough to satisfy the majority.

“I think we had a good process. We had plenty of public input, actually two sessions of over 4 hours, I believe. So, I do think that the public process worked well,” said Michael Leonard, who voted to approve the project.

Leonard says he’s very satisfied with the design, but some committee members wanted more concessions from Omni.

“There will not be a good pedestrian experience on Third St. There's a loading dock and some blank storefront,” said Scott Kremer, who voted “no.”

In a separate vote, the committee also okayed the city's plan to move all or part of the historic Water Company building to make away for the project.

“I am very disappointed today. I think that the DDRO could have pushed harder on Omni to be a better corporate citizen,” said Marianne Zickuhr, executive director of Preservation Louisville.

The city says it's considering proposals for the building.

Developer Ross Lerner says he submitted two last Friday. He wants to move 35 feet of the building and turn it into a new Havana Rumba restaurant, or move the facade to Founders Square.

“And build a public gathering and eating space behind it, and make it a permanent monument to the old Louisville Water Company,” said Lerner.

No word on when a decision might come. Officials from both the city and Omni rushed away without comment.

Mayor Greg Fischer did release a statement saying, "I'm pleased with the enhancements Omni made based on the community's and the committee's inputs, and our city has emerged with a better development."

The next step is the Board of Zoning Adjustment on August 3, where approval is expected.


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