Yesterday, I told you about a report that suggests a series of 19th century buildings on the 100 block of West Main Street comprising the Iron Quarter site are still salvageable despite years of decay. Now, Mayor Abramson has come out in support of preserving the old bourbon warehouses and is actively encouraging developer Todd Blue to sell the buildings to someone willing to stabilize and rehabilitate them.
Chris Poynter, spokesman for Mayor Abramson, said the Iron Quarter block “is the most important block anywhere in the city right now.” Mayor Abramson met with Blue last week to discuss selling the properties and says two undisclosed local buyers are interested in all or a portion of the site.
The Mayor praised Blue’s efforts at preserving historic buildings at the Mercantile Lofts and the Cobalt Marketplace, both on Market Street. He also lauded the vision behind the original Iron Quarter project, but realizes it was a victim of the down economy. Now, the Mayor wants to move forward before it’s too late.
Thirty years ago, Poynter notes West Main Street between Sixth and Ninth were in the same situation and now the stretch known as Museum Row is one of the finest streets in the city. He says these buildings are part of Louisville’s history and the Mayor wants to see them remain standing and put to good use.
Mayor Abramson finds the restoration of the new Patrick O’Shea’s, on the same block as the Iron Quarter, to be a good example of what can be done to save a deteriorating building. Not too long ago, the O’Shea’s building exhibited similar amounts of decay as some of the Iron Quarter buildings. A fire had damaged much of the structure and a settling facade had to be lifted back into place and structural stars installed.
Poynter also notes that the recently installed fence barricading off the sidewalk is quickly becoming a hassle for new businesses in the area and employees who must go far out of their way just to get around. Parking has also been prohibited in front of the buildings, costing Blue $20 a day per meter while they are blocked.
Abramson usually doesn’t get involved in brokering deals between private parties, but Poynter says there’s no time to waste and that stabilization must happen as soon as possible. Cobalt Ventures paid $4.3 million for the Iron Quarter properties several years ago and the Mayor thinks a deal to sell the buildings could allow Blue to break even. Poynter wouldn’t say if the city can help financially in stabilizing the structures but did say all options are on the table.