Landmark hearing could 'significantly delay' Omni Hotel project - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Landmark hearing could 'significantly delay' Omni Hotel project

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Currently, the Water Company building is the only structure left standing on the block. Currently, the Water Company building is the only structure left standing on the block.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Metro Louisville’s Landmarks and Preservation Districts commission will hear arguments Thursday morning on why or why not the old Louisville Water Company building should be designated a historic landmark.

“We have no illusions about our chances of success tomorrow,” said Neighborhood Planning and Preservation representative Martina Kunnecke. “It's an uphill battle.”

Neighborhood Planning and Preservation says it received more than 200 signatures for a petition that was filed in September. Once it was filed, demolition at the site was stopped. Currently, the Water Company building is the only structure left standing on the block.

The site is scheduled to be turned into a $300 million Omni hotel complete with apartments, parking deck and grocery store.

“We're not against big projects per se but planning needs to accommodate both the folks that live here and the folks that we're trying to lure here to be interested in our town,” Kunnecke said.

A representative from Louisville Forward, Metro government's economic development agency, said making the building a historic landmark would greatly delay the Omni hotel project.

“Whats happened on Third Street in the past couple of months is the Mayor has basically determined whats going to go and whats going to stay and that's inappropriate,” Kunnecke said.

The Mayor’s office said all interview requests should be sent to Louisville Forward. A Louisville Forward representative said it would not be doing interviews until after the hearing Thursday morning.

A Landmarks Commission Report filed in September, found the building met only three of the nine criteria to be considered a landmark.

It did meet the following criteria:

  • Its character, interest, or value as part of the development or heritage of Louisville Metro, Jefferson County, the Commonwealth or the United States.
  • Its exemplification of the historic, aesthetic, architectural, prehistoric or historic archaeological, educational, economic, or cultural heritage of Louisville Metro, Jefferson County, the Commonwealth, or the nation.
  • Its embodiment of distinguishing characteristics of an architectural type or specimen.

Some of the criteria it did not meet according to the report was that it is not associated with any historic person or event, it was not designed or built by someone who influenced the development of Metro Louisville and it does not represent any significant architectural innovation.

If the commission does give the Water Company building the landmark distinction, the city would likely appeal the decision. If it does not, a health or safety emergency would have be declared in order to tear the building down.

The meeting will be held at 8:30 am on Thursday at the Old Jail Building.

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