Museum Plaza — R.I.P.

Updated at 12:45 p.m.

Plans for Louisville’s 62-story, Tetris-inspired skyscraper have been scrapped.

According to The Courier-Journal, the development team of Laura Lee Brown, Steve Wilson, Craig Greenberg and Steve Poe sent the news in a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear and Mayor Greg Fischer this morning. Apparently (no big surprise here)  they were unable to secure financing. The letter also asked that the state withdraw its application for a HUD loan.

This unravels visions of a futuristic skyline that were lauded back in 2005 when the project was announced. Three years ago, however, work on the downtown site ceased, and it was apparent that Museum Plaza was in trouble. So, what now? A downtown quarry at Seventh and Main, where excavation for Museum Plaza has left a massive void? Mayor Fischer had this to say in a statement:

“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.”

Later, in a conference call with reporters, Mayor Fischer said the developers will restore the site and the city will hope for another project to come along.

Fischer just learned about the Plaza-plug-being-pulled over the weekend. He said developers briefly considered scaling back the project, but the economy, along with impending tenant agreements, pushed them to finally call it off.

When asked if the failure of Museum Plaza may be indicative of the future of the Center City development (a downtown entertainment district by MayorAbramson’s development darlings, Cordish Co.), Fischer said no.


  1. Stunoland
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Museum Plaza would have certainly added an unexpected element to the skyline but the economics for this project did not add up before the recession. The real estate values in downtown Louisville do not justify building 62 stories up especially when there are hundreds of empty flat parking lots waiting for development. The only justification for building 40+ stories in downtown Louisville is for corporate identity and brand building. Furthermore, the presence of the outdated 1950s style elevated riverfront expressway makes developing the MP site particularly challenging. Hopefully the innovative thinking displayed by the MP builders can be expressed through multiple in-fill projects downtown. A fitting substitute would be a Museum Of Modern ARCHitecture in downtown Louisville.

  2. Stunoland
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Maybe Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson could shift their focus to insuring that Louisville’s image defining gateway (Preston to 9th on the river) is not sullied by one of the world’s ugliest elevated waterfront expressways until the year 2120. Nothing will do more to harm our city’s ability to compete in the 21st century as 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. Stunoland
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    It is not necessary that Louisville remove I-64 from its waterfront to have an inviting and marketable image defining gateway. A context-sensitive I-64 would greatly improve the user experience and allow for future improvements including pedestrian plazas and/or potential freeway removal options.

  4. Kelly
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Maybe Todd Blue can build a parking lot there.