LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Grocers Ice and Cold Storage building on Main Street is once again up for sale.

After failing to find a buyer last fall, Kentucky transportation officials plan to hold six open houses and seek bids for the property in the next two months before opening the offers at the end of June.

But the state is seeking only one-third of the $3.6 million it paid in 2010 for the building, which was partially razed to make room for a wider Interstate 65 as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

The lower asking price is a result of several factors. Besides demolishing part of the structure, officials added a preservation easement that limits how the property can be used, said Mindy Peterson, a bridges project spokeswoman. 

"When you have those restrictions it lowers the value,” she said. She noted that the state didn't buy the property to turn a profit.

The 44,628-square-foot building sits on more than three-fourths of an acre just east of I-65 near new exit ramps to I-64 East and I-71 North.

“Now that all the work’s done, we’re looking to put this in the hands of a good owner,” said Andy Barber, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s bridges project manager.

He said he’s aware of five or six buyers that are interested in the property at 609 E. Main Street, which dates to 1906 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The state tried to sell the building last November but the lone bid it received was below the appraised value, according to the Cabinet. This time, officials decided to set a minimum price of $1.205 million.

“We’ve stepped away from our typical processes and now we have an asking price,” Barber said.

Money from the sale will go into the state’s road fund, which helps pay for transportation projects across the state. The fund has plummeted in recent years as gas-tax revenues have fallen.

The building, purchased in 2010, is one of three historic properties Kentucky bought under the terms of a preservation agreement for the $2.3 billion bridges project -- the Lincoln Bridge, a redesigned Spaghetti Junction interchange and a new East End Bridge.

The two other properties – the Drumanard Estate off Wolf Pen Branch Road and the Rosewell mansion near Harrods Creek – have yet to be sold. In all, Kentucky has paid $13.5 million for real estate from which it has yet to recoup any proceeds.

The Grocers Ice building has an uneven layout – short ceilings in rooms that needed little air flow to keep ice cool, and high ceilings in other parts of the plant. A loading dock on the Main Street side was enclosed. Vegetation grows out of one corner of the building.

But officials are hoping that its location, not far from Slugger Field and next to a mixed-use retail and apartment project being built, will be a selling point. Another formerly state-owned building, the old Vermont American plant, is being converted into an Angels Envy bourbon distillery a block to the west.

Rebecca Matheny, executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership, said the Grocers Ice building is a “terrific property.”

“I just think it’s a great opportunity for somebody with some vision,” she said.

Open houses are scheduled for May 4, May 17, May 25, June 3, June 10 and June 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, go to www.kytcproperty.com.

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