Developer Steve Poe expects to break ground on his 14-story dual-branded hotel project at First and Main streets by early August.

He got a step closer on Wednesday afternoon when the Waterfront Development Corporation board of directors approved plans for the project, which mixes the upscale Westin and hip Moxy brands into one building. The plans will go before the Historic Preservation and Landmarks Commission for final city approvals, Poe told Insider.

The project will cost an estimated $90 million, and Poe said he hoped to have the hotels open in time for the Kentucky Derby in 2019. Each will have their own bars and fitness centers; the development also includes a restaurant, 2,800 square feet of meeting space and a 5,000-square-foot ballroom.

Poe described the 205-room Westin hotel as for the “upscale traveler,” which fits Main Street. “It’s historic, and it’s elegant. It’s the front door,” he said. The Westin will have one of the highest room rates in the city.

The entrance to the 110-room Moxy will be on West Washington Street, and the hotel will cater to younger consumers and offer rooms at a lower price point. A nightly rate will be around $150.

“Washington Street is a little edgier. It’s the back door,” Poe said. The development has “two different entrances, two different experiences, two different bars and at the same time energizes both streets.”

Poe Companies’ longtime partner White Lodging will manage the Westin and Moxy hotels. The hotels will be the 12th and 13th that the two have co-developed.

The hotels will sit just across the street from Poe’s Aloft Hotel and in the same block as the 111 Whiskey Row development and Old Forester Distillery/visitor experience, as well as just down from the KFC Yum! Center.

With all the money pouring into that single block, Poe said he believed Washington Street will become “a cool destination” of its own with the Old Forester Distillery, 111 Whiskey Row, Troll Pub Under the Bridge and Patrick O’Shea’s all having or planning to have entrances along the street.

Poe has offloaded nearly all of his local apartment developments, saying he feels the demand for multifamily housing will decline in the near future. Poe told Insider Wednesday that he feels differently about the hotel market in Louisville.

“We think that the hotel market especially downtown will continue to prosper,” Poe said. “The renovation of the convention center is key to that.”

The Kentucky International Convention Center is closed until July 2018 for a multimillion-dollar renovation that is expected to bring new, larger conventions and therefore more tourism dollars to Louisville. All those tourists and event-goers will need a place to stay.

Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]


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