The Museum Plaza That Couldn’t Get Built

What could have been

Most of us remember the fanfare when the Museum Plaza project was announced six years ago. It was a big deal, originally touted as being designed by world-renowned architects with an estimated cost of $70 million. In 2005. It was so long ago that one of the C-J sidebars was written by Chris Poynter, then a C-J reporter. The main story opened this way:

A tower, possibly with 26 floors or more, on Louisville’s riverfront designed by one of the world’s leading architectural companies.

There was plenty of optimism as planners actually broke ground in 2007 and infrastructure was put in place. I remember controversy as workers at some downtown buildings felt shaking as the Museum Plaza contractors began blowing things up to make way for the structure. But then construction stopped, blamed on the economy, and today we learned that it will never start again.  There were signs of hope, then there weren’t, and then there was a long period in which nothing happened.

Today there this statement from the Mayor:

“Laura Lee Brown, Steve Wilson and Craig Greenberg have proven their bold and entrepreneurial vision for the city with the internationally-acclaimed 21C and what will be an historic and stunning Whiskey Row project.

“The timing and the uproar in the financial markets have unfortunately derailed Museum Plaza and, although the building will not grace our skyline, the creativity and the willingness of the development team have inspired others in Louisville to think big and think bold.

“Laura Lee, Steve and Craig and their development partner, Steve Poe, embody the entrepreneurial attitude that is becoming the model for Louisville. I look forward to working with them on other great projects for our city.”

Sometimes you gamble and lose. We’ll probably never know how much the developers invested in the project.

4 Comments on "The Museum Plaza That Couldn’t Get Built"

  1. Disappointing news but kudos to the original team who proposed a solid plan for such a bold project for our city. A vibrant, growing city needs big thinkers – big DREAMERS – to challenge us all.

    (By the way, shouldn’t that security question appear above “post comment?” Get sent back a page every time because I don’t scroll down far enough!)

  2. A good use of Laura Lee Brown’s and Steve Wilson’s talents, resources and energy would be to better integrate I-64 into Louisville’s most important mile–Preston to 9th on the River. The current design of the downtown ORBP is completely unacceptable and will lead to over 100 years of economic and cultural stagnation in Louisville. It is Marketing 101 that what a city does on its Central Business District’s riverfront matters. The 2011 ORBP budgets $795 million for the 3 mile 4 lane KY east end approach including an absurd $261 million 1/2 mile tunnel and a 4 story cut into the hillside. Meanwhile, the Spaghetti Junction interchange, where 3 interstates converge is now budgeted $724 million with $0 for aesthetic improvements. Nothing will do more to harm our city’s ability to compete in the 21st century than the undemocratic, economically detrimental and socially unjust downtown Ohio River Bridge Project.Speak up for the silent super-majority. Prevent the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century. Divide the project, not the community. Build the east end bridge now, toll-free. Save Louisville.

  3. Certainly sad to see this project canceled. Does anyone else think it’s strange that this announcement was made at the same time the Whiskey Row sale closed? Certainly makes you start thinking that we’re only here about another backdoor deal Mayor Greg made.

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