Craig Greenberg went before Metro Council today to answer the tough questions about the state of the Museum Plaza development. We didn’t have a chance to sit in on the Q & A but did read over a letter Greenberg sent to Metro Council about the project. The gist of the meeting probably goes something like, “Financial meltdown. We’re doing our best. We’re ready to go. Economic crisis. We’re going to get this thing built. Credit crunch.” More realistically, Craig is trying to reassure Metro Council that matters are under control and the project will move forward as the economy improves.
Life’s not easy for a mega-project in these trying economic times. That giant spire that Santiago Calatrava designed in Chicago is just a hole in the ground and going nowhere fast, Dubai is in meltdown mode, and even the new World Trade Center is being held up every other day or so. Louisville is not unique by having a delayed mega-project. What is unique are a group of developers so dedicated to the city. And with $47 million already invested in the project so far, including $1.2 million to purchase property not owned by the city and about $14 million more to bury some power lines, the group can’t just walk away from an already substantial development.
So far, 20 permits and approvals to get started have already been acquired for the project, the Westin hotel franchise is still ready to go, and the developers are good for the money. They were even forced to bear all in a confidential letter demonstrating “Evidence of Net Worth” and their ability to personally meet the financial obligations. Greenberg reassures the Council as well that no city funds have been used so far in the project, and won’t until a complete financing package has been obtained.
And so far, the plans and design for the building haven’t changed. Greenberg’s letter to Metro Council explains that “the architectural and construction documents for Museum Plaza are to build a building and infrastructure that is the same as has been shown in renderings… over the past two years.” And the construction documents are done. Waiting. Sitting in a back office somewhere biding their time until financing rolls in. That’s them in the photo above.
Despite a barrage of concerns and worries from Metro Council, the developers are still showing no sign of breaking. While an anxious public keeps fingers crossed or pointing fingers poised, the pressure must be great for the four who have already put so much at stake. Here’s the optimism Greenberg and the rest of the development group still maintain for Museum Plaza:
Laura Lee Brown, Steve Wilson, Steve Poe, myself and the entire Museum Plaza development team remain as committed as ever to building this important community project. It is too important not to build. Museum Plaza will not only energize and improve West Main Street, Downtown Louisville, and our entire community, but serve as a symbol of our community and state’s ability to rebound from these challenging times stronger than ever.
Museum Plaza will be under construction within 30 days of closing our financing, building $150 million of infrastructure and having an economic impact of over $1 billion during our construction period. Over 4,500 different people will help build Museum Plaza, earning prevailing wages. Over 600 people will work on the site every day during its peak construction period. And, over 1,500 people will have permanent good jobs in the building upon its completion. Museum Plaza will quickly and forcefully stimulate Kentucky’s economy, while improving it and its image in the process.