Steve Wilson, Laura Lee Brown, Steve Poe and Craig Greenberg wanted to build a 62 story building that would house a world class modern art museum. They wanted to create a model mixed-use project that would be beautiful and functional, revolutionary and classic. To make this dream a reality, they needed partners in federal, state and local government to help them with project approval, financing and implementation.
In 2006, we started developing plans to foster solid relationships with the key decision makers in the city and state branches of government. To meet our ultimate goal, we would need to gain the confidence and support of Kentucky’s legislators as well as members of the state executive branch.
To finance the $490 million project, we needed to tap several different public agencies to supplement the funds provided by Museum Plaza’ visionary development team. We worked tirelessly with them to secure the necessary bonds to pay for about $135 million in public improvements such as the park surrounding the complex, street lighting, floodwalls and floodgates. We also educated ourselves on an economic development tool called tax increment financing (TIF) that would enable the Plaza’s developers to receive a portion of the new taxes generated by Museum Plaza to cover the debts it incurred during its development and construction. Though we hadn’t previously had much experience with TIF, we were successful in putting a tax plan together that won approval from Louisville’s Metro Council.
We explored every opportunity to expose the project for what it could and would be with the proper support – a world class display that draw interest locally, nationally and worldwide. We secured the commitment of the Governor, who so strongly believed in the value of Museum Plaza that he stood with us to promote the project.
Ground was broken for Museum Plaza on October 25, 2007. Located at River Road and Seventh Street in downtown Louisville, the project will include a Westin hotel, luxury condominiums and lofts, retail and office space, a contemporary art gallery and a 140,000-square-foot park and plaza. Architect Joshua Prince-Ramus has said that this truly unique blending of culture and commerce has created a buzz worldwide and he is constantly being asked about Museum Plaza. Upon its expected completion in late 2010, it will be the tallest building in Kentucky, with a trio of glass-and-steel towers soaring above the western edge of downtown along the Ohio River.