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Louisville Gives Preservationists More Time To Find a New Old Water Co. Building Site

Louisville officials are giving preservationists 30 more days to come up with a plan to save the old Water Co. building downtown.

The building is more than a century old and currently sits on a block near Third Street and Muhamad Ali Boulevard, the site of the $300-million Omni Hotel development.

Last month, Mayor Greg Fischer said the building could not remain on the site. He gave preservationists 30 days to present a plan to move the building to a new site; he also pledged $1 million to the relocation.

The city received just one proposal; details of that proposal haven't been released.

But Develop Louisville chief Mary Ellen Weiderwohl told  preservationists in a letter on Wednesday that the proposal is not economically feasible and will not be accepted.

"The one proposal received by the deadline would require the pledging of additional city resources," she wrote.

Fischer has  said to save the building in its entirety, preservationists will need to find a site to move the building to. Other options include relocating just the building's portico or facade.

In her letter, Weiderwohl  said city officials will continue to accept proposals throughout the next 30 days.

She encourages the submission of practical and economically feasible proposals complete with a "sources and uses" components detailing how and where funds will be sourced to supplement the $1 million in city funds.

Craig Potts, executive director of the Kentucky Heritage Council, said a preliminary estimate found moving the building in its entirety will cost about $800,000. That cost covers just the physical transportation of the building, he said. Not included in that estimate is the costs associated with prepping a site for the building and the costs that come with closing streets and moving stop lights during the actual move.

Those costs, he said, haven't been determined.

Finding a property owner willing to give a plot of potential revenue-generating property for a near 100-year-old building in need of repair is difficult.

During the 30 day extension, city officials will move forward in obtaining all necessary approvals and completing duties associated with completing the project, Wiederwohl in her letter said.

Meanwhile, the Omni development plan will be presented to the Downtown Development Review Overlay Committee on July 1.

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.