Museum Plaza plan flops; taxpayers now off the hook [The Arena]

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Almost exactly one year ago, on June 25, 2010, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear was surrounded by local and state officials when he announced the state’s plan to submit an application for a $100 million federal loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for Museum Plaza, a $465 million, 62-story skyscraper project in Louisville that could create nearly 7,000 short-term and permanent jobs.

“Tough economic times mean we must be more creative to find funding for important projects,” said Gov. Beshear.  “Applying for this federal loan is a first step, and while we cannot predict whether it will be approved, my administration is excited about the potential opportunity to create thousands of jobs and get Kentucky’s economic engines moving again.”

Today, WHAS-11’s Joe Arnold reports that developer Craig Greenberg wrote a letter to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer indicating that plans for the skyscraper have been scrapped.  "... we are ending our efforts to build Museum Plaza," says Greenberg in the letter dated August 1, "As you well know, the economy changed drastically since we began this project and, as a result, putting together a sensible financing package has not been possible." 

The Museum Plaza development team of Greenberg, Laura Lee Brown, Steve Wilson and Steve Poe issued a statement, terminating its development agreement with the city:  "Through this process we have endured four years of the worst recession of our lifetime and the most challenging lending market ever.  There are no signs of improvement in the near future."

The project was originally announced in February 2006, with a groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for October, 2007.  Some progress was made over the years, with the demolition of a ten story LG&E substation and the removal of underground cable.  But construction was halted in 2008 after neighbors complained about vibrations from the drilling for huge concrete pillars.  The coinciding collapse of financial markets froze credit and the project. 

It was estimated that the project would have created 4,500 prevailing wage construction jobs, and, when completed, more than 2,300 people would have worked in Museum Plaza.  “Just as Museum Plaza will be an exclamation point on Louisville’s skyline, the thousands of good-paying jobs created by this building will be an exclamation point for the economy of the city, the region and the Commonwealth,” said Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson at the time.

“Blending culture and commerce, Museum Plaza is an incredibly exciting project that will also generate thousands of jobs for Louisville,” said Congressman John Yarmuth back in 2010. “It is very encouraging that Kentucky is pursuing every opportunity to make Museum Plaza a reality.”

 

The stuff that dreams are made of:  Museum Plaza web site

Read more:  Chris Poynter’s February 9, 2006 article in The Courier-Journal

 

 

 

About Thomas McAdam
At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.
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