Whiskey Row Announces First Phase of Renovation Plans

by Devin Katayama on November 1, 2011

The gate to the deteriorating buildings on Louisville’s Whiskey Row opens. You can see your breath when you make your way across the floorboards that are littered with glass and garbage.

Craig Greenburg warns to watch out for soft spots on the floor and the smells of what once housed a night club.

“It’s almost impossible to miss, but when you open the door that smell that just comes out here is overbearing,” said Greenberg, a Louisville attorney and spokesman for Main Street Revitalization, LLC.

The group bought five of the buildings on Whiskey Row in August after they were nearly demolished by developer Todd Blue, who sold them for $4.8 million. The group is mostly anonymous and plans to develop the downtown buildings, which have remained vacant for decades and have since begun deteriorating. On Tuesday, they announced plans to begin renovating.

Greenberg led a tour in and around the buildings which stand on Main Street in downtown.

“So the brick walls that you see here will be preserved for long term redevelopment. The wood floors and the interior wood structure that we’re sort of standing on right now that you can feel it’s soggy and bowed and a little but scary, that interior wood structure would be removed as part of this process on these two buildings only,” Greenberg said.

Phase one of the plan includes stabilizing the buildings and preparing them for long-term development, he said. The facades on all five buildings will remain and plans even include maintaining two more facades owned by Blue, though the buildings behind them will be destroyed.

“There are three key components. One is to preserve the two historic facades on Todd Blue’s remaining property; and then the other two components are to preserve the three buildings that are in the best condition of those that our group has purchased and then the more challenging preservation, stabilization work on the western most buildings which involves saving the facades and the brick walls,” he said.

The buildings on West Main Street that are in the best condition are addresses 111, 113, and 115. West Main Street’s 117 and 119 will need the most work.

Greenberg expects to speak with interested tenants in the near future, but he has ensured involvement of state and federal historical preservation agencies throughout the process. The National Park Service has approved a development group’s plan to begin renovating and the project is open for bidding and construction could begin next month.

Greenberg couldn’t say how much the project will cost, but it will be substantially more than the $1.5 million invested by the city.

The first phase is expected to be complete by next summer. In the meantime, Greenberg said he expects to speak with interested tenants.

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