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.