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The Starks Building has been sold to a Florida-based company, the current owner confirmed to Insider Louisville on Monday morning.

Mendel Hertz of the California-based Hertz Investment Group tells IL that his firm has closed a deal with Hudson Holdings for the nearly 400,000-square-foot building. As of late Monday morning, neither the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator nor the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office had received a deed or any documents notifying of a sale. Hertz declined to comment on the terms of the sale; his firm bought the building for $12.5 million in 2006.

“I think the Starks Building has a bright future,” Hertz says. “This is a group with a very exciting idea to rejuvenate that building.”

Reached Monday afternoon, Hudson principal Steven Michael declined to comment on the sale or share any new information about the company’s plans.

Hertz says the company, whose principals were in Louisville in February to kick the tires, plans to turn a third of the building into hotel rooms, another third into apartments, and to keep the rest as retail and commercial office space.

Details of the proposed changes to Starks leaked out in February, when Hudson briefly posted it as an active project on its website. The company said it planned 200 hotel rooms and 100 apartments in the 14-story building, which is on the corner of Fourth Street and West Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

“Our hope for (the building) is a creative mixed-use, preserving in a limited way the building’s history as an office structure, but renewing its future with residential and retail; on the same lines, embracing the historic heritage of the property while bringing it creatively into the present,” says Rebecca Matheny, executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership.

The building, which has been the subject of sale rumors for the past several years, is a commercial mainstay at Fourth Street Live and currently home to the restaurant Eddie Merlot’s. It has struggled in leasing office space, however, and remains about half-full.

Starks was built in 1913 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Business First reported in February that Hudson would seek historic preservation tax credits through the Kentucky Heritage Council as part of its redevelopment plan. Diane Comer, spokeswoman for the council, tells IL the agency has received inquiries about the Starks Building, although confidentiality agreements prevent her from disclosing who they came from. A spokesman for the state Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet says no one has reached out about whether Starks could quality for tourism tax credits, which could apply to the hotel portion of the building.

Mary Ellen Weiderwohl, head of Louisville Forward, Metro government’s development agency, says she is “excited about the prospect for redevelopment of a major downtown anchor.”

Hertz, whose firm does not own any other property in Louisville, is still considering other ventures here, although he declined to elaborate to IL. His firm currently has properties in 13 other cities. He says the Starks Building is “in good hands.”

This story has been updated. 

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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.