It seems like all the mega-projects that created Louisville’s unprecedented development buzz in the last few years have been hibernating for some time. One of the most exciting projects, Capital Plaza, still plans to make an addition to the River City skyline, as early as the end of this year. That all depends on the economy, though. Currently, the 25-story office tower proposed just over a year ago by Barrister Commercial Group is officially on hold, but if the markets improve, the 380 foot tall tower could be opening its doors sometime in 2012.
The tower is planned for the surface level parking lot on Market Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets and will include 25,000 square feet of sidewalk retail space, 500,000 square feet of Class-A office space, and 1,600 parking spots. Some of those spots will be underground to serve government parking that was displaced by the project and the rest will be in a 6–7 story garage above the retail space. Barrister has continued to discuss purchasing the site from the city with Bruce Traughber of the Metro Economic Development Cabinet.
The developers also hope to turn Capital Plaza into Louisville’s tallest green building. In an effort to receive LEED certification for the project, a landscaped plaza with be situated above the garage on the 7th or 8th floor; the plaza will help to handle rainwater runoff. Other ‘green’ systems are also being explored such as wastewater filtration. Baker Barrios Architects of Atlanta have been brought on board for the design.
Most of the towers proposed in and around downtown recently have been tied to the Humana request for office space and are dependent on utilizing the company as a tenant for their projects to be fully realized. Barrister has been searching for tenants other than Humana for their building and have found interested parties that make the project independent of the Humana office space request. An unnamed corporation from the Northeast is still interested in moving its headquarters into the building once the economy improves and Mike Brown at Barrister says the goal of Capital Plaza is to bring a new corporate headquarters to the city. Even with a major tenant, construction would still hinge upon finding 40–50 percent occupancy for the building.
We were hesitant to sign on to the City Hall parking lot site at first, as we wondered if it might be better used to expand City Hall. After a year, though, we believe this site is an excellent choice for the building. Louisville is lucky to have a compact and well-organized civic center one block south and we now think growth of the civic center should be focused to the southwest of Jefferson Square, not the north. It’s all in the name, too. Market Street should be a commercial street, and nothing says that like Capital Plaza. Putting our City Hall on Market would send out the wrong message, like putting our government up for sale. The high-quality design of this building also helps, too. A well-detailed and massive structure on one of downtown’s widest streets will definitely help this stretch of downtown feel more urban and contribute to the westward growth already happening around West Main Street and the Glassworks.
If it’s finished before Museum Plaza, the Capital Plaza will check in at Kentucky’s 6th tallest building. It’s definitely good news that Barrister hasn’t tied themselves to the Humana office space bandwagon, as it means not only is Capital Plaza more likely to be built sooner, but another tower could take a nod from Humana sometime in the future.