Omni hotel, grocery and apartments coming to downtown Louisville block


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville officials are seeking a four-month delay in the expiration of city funds associated with the planned Omni Hotel development downtown

The $261 million project – which includes a 20-25 floor hotel, a 200-unit luxury apartment complex and an upscale grocery store – is planned for the mostly vacant “Water Company block” bounded by Muhammad Ali Boulevard and Liberty, Second and Third streets.

An ordinance pending in the Metro Council would extend a Sept. 1 expiration date for funds associated with the project to Dec. 31. The delay would apply to “funds appropriated for downtown land acquisition and other costs associated with Metro Government's contract with Cordish Development.” The ordinance is on the agenda for Thursday's meeting of the council's budget committee.

The delay is “for the Water Company block to finish up for the Omni,” said Tony Hyatt, spokesman for Metro Council President Jim King.

Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer, said the project is "moving forward and on track," but more time is needed to finish the design of the hotel and other details.

"These are very big and complicated deals," Poynter said. "This is sort of typical of projects of this size and scope."

Council member Kelly Downard sponsors the ordinance that would extend the deadline four months. However, he says Cordish's history of delaying - and occasionally backing out of projects - means one extension is all he'll support.

"I'm happy to do this one time, but it is not going to be one of those when Cordish comes back every three months and says we need more time. They need to have their house in order. They say they will have no problem getting it done, and I expect them to do that," Downard said.

The Cordish Co., which developed 4th Street Live, is slated to build the apartment and grocery store portion of the project, while Omni will build the hotel.

The deal, unveiled in March, calls for Metro government to give about $17 million worth of land the city had already purchased to Omni and Cordish for the development. The city's parking authority is also slated to build a $17 million parking garage.

It appears the Metro Council inserted the Sept. 1 deadline into the city's annual capital budget in June 2012.

At that time, city officials were hoping Cordish would follow through with an agreement announced in 2008 to redevelop the Water Company block after years of inaction. The agreement was updated earlier this year when Omni entered the picture. Under the latest plan, construction is scheduled to start in 2015.

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Chris Otts reports for about business and economic topics, higher education and local / state government. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after seven years with The Courier-Journal. Got a tip? Chris is at 502-585-0822 and