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HKS Architects

Mayor Greg Fischer and Eddie Abeyta of the architecture firm HKS unveiled the final design for the proposed Omni Louisville on Wednesday afternoon, and it’s as dramatic as we thought it would be.

The 30-story hotel and residence, which will feature 600 four-star rooms on the bottom 16 floors and 225 higher-end residences on the top 14, looks a little like the ill-fated Museum Plaza, with portions of the building intersecting one another, a cantilever, and the carefully considered feel of a late-stage game of Jenga:

HKS Architects
HKS Architects

Abeyta said his design is inspired by Louisville’s civic identity as a place where cultures converge and the past — particularly in architecture — informs the present.

“The Omni Louisville is designed to be a catalyst to the city’s future growth and urban development while embracing and celebrating Louisville’s authentic quality in a new and forward-thinking way,” said Abeyta. “It will be more than just a travel destination as it incorporates hotel, residential living and neighborhood amenities into a vertically integrated urban mixed-use development.”

The main entrance will be on Second Street near Liberty, while the long-awaited grocery store — which Fischer said today would be more of an urban market — will be near Third and Liberty. The 20,000-square-foot market will open to Third Street, Abeyta said, with a coffee shop, meat market, and other amenities to draw in pedestrians. He said the feature would “activate” the “auto-centric” portion of Third Street. Like this:

Examples for the proposed urban market on Third Street | HKS Architects
Examples for the proposed urban market on Third Street | HKS Architects

Omni is seeking tenants for the urban market, which Fischer said would stock daily items but clearly wouldn’t serve the same target customer as a Kroger. In other words, we expect the folks who buy the condos scraping the sky above Omni Louisville will be the ones hitting up that meat market. If Omni doesn’t lock down a tenant, it will operate the market itself.

The hotelier also is planning to include four new restaurants and a speakeasy-style bar in the tower, Abeyta said. He confirmed that Bob’s Steakhouse, a common Omni partner that’s in the company’s Nashville and Dallas hotels, will be among them.

There will also be pools — one on the roof of the hotel portion and another on the very top of the building:

Nice pool | HKS Architects
Nice pool | HKS Architects

As for ongoing historic preservation issues at the site, which Metro government will clear for Omni by Jan. 1, 2016, Fischer said his administration has gotten some private interest in his ambitious plan to move the former Water Company building, but nothing too significant. The deadline for proposals from private interests looking to relocate the structure is later this month.

Fischer also confirmed that Odd Fellows Hall, which is on the southeastern portion of the block, will be preserved and leased to Omni — at least for the time being. Roughly one-third of the block will be used as a staging area during construction, and Omni will have the right to develop it in the future.

The $289 million project — $139 million of which is being financed by Metro government through new debt and tax increment financing on the block — is expected to open in May 2018. Alabama-based Brasfield & Gorrie is the construction firm on the project. It is projected to create 765 prevailing wage jobs during construction and roughly 300 permanent jobs when it opens.

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Stephen George
Stephen George is news editor of Insider Louisville. He is a former editor of LEO Weekly and the Nashville City Paper, and a former news editor of the Nashville Scene. He has written for various other news and culture publications and is happy to be back in Louisville.