Landmarks Commission denies petition to designate old Water Co. - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Landmarks Commission denies petition to designate old Water Co. building as historic landmark

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Old Louisville Water Company building is coming down and the new Omni Hotel is going up.

The $300 million project appears to have cleared its last hurdle.

After a three hour hearing on Thursday, the Landmarks Commission denied a petition to designate the old Water Company building as an historic landmark.

That means it will soon make way for the new Omni Hotel.

The public hearing was triggered when a group called Neighborhood Planning and Preservation filed the petition right before demolition on the hundred year old water company building was to begin.

“Our agenda is to stop placating backroom deals,” said Martina Kunnecke, the group’s leader.

Kunnecke told the commissioners that Louisville is in danger of losing its history to those with money and power.

“If you love your history, if you love our architecture, the buildings stand,” she said.

But hotel supporters claim any further delay could scuttle the Omni hotel project, which they say is critical to downtown development.

“It will transform, yes transform is appropriate, several city blocks from an unproductive parking lot to the most productive space in the city,” said attorney and developer Ed Glasscock.

The commissioners voted 6-3 to deny the historic landmark designation.

“We lost what we continue to lose, the focus on the public, the commitment to the public good, the commitment to stewardship of our historic properties that we say we love, but obviously some of us don't,” said Kunnecke after the vote.

The chairman says the commission was influenced by a staff report indicating the building met just 3 of the 9 criteria for landmark designation.

“And the fact that there were some reservations about the integrity of the site and the building,” said Robert Vice.

The city will now move ahead with plans to dismantle the facade and place it in storage for future use.

Omni supporters hope the vote is the project's final hurdle.

“I'm very appreciative and respectful to the people that are wanting to save the building, but this is progress, and millions and millions of dollars that will add to this community,” said Karen Williams, president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

It now appears groundbreaking on the Omni Hotel will take place as scheduled in January.

The Omni project will be the largest construction project in the city, outside of the bridges project, and it will create 760 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs.

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