Iron Quarter buildings on Main Street (BS File Photo)
Iron Quarter buildings on Main Street (BS File Photo)
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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.

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Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

9 COMMENTS

  1. The Iron Quarter was a really cool idea so I guess this is sad insofar as it sound like the death knell but, given the condition of the bldngs, I guess it is fo the best that these will (hopefully) be sold to a group with a more tenable plan.

  2. I think the Iron Quarter project was the absolute best plan for Louisville, I was looking more forward to it than Museum Plaza. It was the perfect mix of history and contemporary architecture.

    http://www.ironquarter.com/IQ_Storybook.pdf

    The PDF is still there from Google's search results. If anyone can save this plan… build it, and they will come. ;p

  3. It does look like the project as proposed is officially dead. It’s unfortunate because Blue has some big plans for the site. Fortunately, the area is in a prime location and something will happen there. There has already been so much new business announced along with several renovations of similar buildings. Now we just need to make sure we don’t lose the structures and have a big empty lot.

  4. projects like these make Louisville extremely appealing to young professional who grew up in Louisville and have yet to move make post college. Just because some is old doesn’t make it historic. This project looked very classy, and would have been a great place to enjoy before or after UofL game (or any event). I hope one day Louisville decides to try and keep up with other cities like Nashville. Until then, it will be an city full of great families who stay in the suburbs.

  5. I saw on one of the maps in the pdf that there is a planned development for the large surface parking lot adjacent to Slugger Field. Anyone have any information about that?

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