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Louisville Preservationists Launch Petition to Support Water Co. Block Buildings

Hundreds of residents have expressed support for the preservation of two historic buildings on a block in downtown Louisville slated for a major development.

The buildings, the Odd Fellows Hall and the Water Company building, are two of four historic structures that once stood on what is known as the Old Water Company block near Third Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

Earlier this month, Louisville Metro government began razing the Morrissey Garage and the Falls City Theater Company buildings because they deemed the them to be a public safety hazard. But a recent report from Insider Louisville raised questions about the validity of the engineering reports on the buildings.

Weeks after the razing began, the buildings still remain in a heap of rubble.

Later this year, the $300-million Omni Hotel development will begin construction onthe block. But before the heavy machinery begins digging the foundation for the new tower, local preservationists want to ensure their voice is heard.

To that end, Marianne Zickuhr, executive director of Preservation Louisville, started circulating a petition online.

“I’ve been really impressed that people have responded well, a lot of people have been sharing the petition," she said. "We really want Omni to know what we feel--I think we get a say in what happens on that block."

The petition can be found here and has already been signed by more than 350 people. Zickuhr said she wants thousands of people to sign it.

Chris Poynter, a spokesman for the Mayor Greg Fischer's office, said city officials are always interested in resident input and "we are continuing to work closely with Omni on the design of the project.”

The development calls for only one of the two buildings to remain on the historic block, according to a report from The Courier-Journal.

Zickuhr said both buildings are suited for incorporation into the new development.

"In this particular situation there is a lot of taxypayers dollars going in this project," she said. "I think it bodes well that we make our voice heard.”

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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