Three prominent row-buildings on West Main Street once part of a planned entertainment center are being placed on the market. The buildings for sale include the Fort Nelson building on the corner of Main & 8th Streets and two double-wide row buildings at 811-813 Main and 815-817 Main. Original plans called for selling the properties all at once, but owners Paul and Carolan Bariteau of Forte Development are now selling the buildings individually. The three properties represent the last major buildings vacant on West Main Street without development plans.
The buildings were all originally tobacco warehouses are contain a combined 71,000 square feet, minus basements, which empty onto Washington Street. No price has been set for the properties, but they will likely be listed for similar prices as recent sales in the neighborhood (The Fulton-Conway property went for around $1.5 million). This stretch of West Main Street has been largely redeveloped with high-profile museums including the Louisville Slugger Museum, the Frazier International History Museum, and the Louisville Science Center (currently being expanded). The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution plans another history museum and geneology library in the two-story Fulton-Conway building sandwiched between the for sale properties. To seal the deal, the buildings are only one block from Museum Plaza to the north if the kunsthalle/museum and towers eventually get built.
The Fort Nelson Building, the turreted cast-iron and stone Romanesque-revival structure dating to the 1880s, was considered for conversion into a museum twice in recent memory. John Conti Coffee Company had once planned a coffee museum at the site and later donated the property to the city in the mid-1990s. A group of investors later took control of the building and made some repairs. The building was then in poor shape and they are credited with saving the building from demolition.
Paul Bariteau bought the building several years later planning restaurants and a music museum for the site. Plans for an entertainment center grew and Bariteau eventually purchased two additional buildings for what could have potentially been apartments, condos, restaurants, and clubs. A large abstract mural depicting the city’s evolution and architecture was also proposed for the side of the building. The Fulton-Conway building separated the properties from seamless redevelopment, so plans were eventually tabled. The two story structure is now slated for renovation with a landscaped roof deck, so the opportunity for punching windows into the sides of the taller buildings for sale could aid in redevelopment attractiveness.
These properties are massive and solid and could help to finally turn West Main Street into a dense, walkable community while blending the Museum District with the emerging Glassworks District to the south. While the coffee and music museum proposals sound intriguing, the buildings would be ideal for conversion into residential condos or apartments. Too many museums in a small area could deaden the street, but more eyes and feet on the street could serve to liven it up into truly one of America’s best streets.
- History of the Fort Nelson Building (Louisville Guide / Google Books)
- Entertainment complex planned for Main Street (Business First)
- Fort Nelson building sold, new owners mull restaurant (Business First)
- Sons Of The American Revolution Raising Funds (Broken Sidewalk)
- American Revolution Headed For Main Street (Broken Sidewalk)
- Snapshot: Louisville Science Center Moving Debris (Broken Sidewalk)
- Louisville Science Center Expands (Broken Sidewalk)
- West Main Street Apparently Great (Broken Sidewalk)
- Remember When They Were Building Museum Plaza? (Broken Sidewalk)