A rendering of “Iron Quarter”

The release reprinted below from Todd Blue appeared in the Courier-Journal about an hour ago with a few quotes added.

Why Insider Louisville got it is anyone’s guess, but it’s not because we buy any of it.

There are almost as many holes in this “news” as there are in the decaying buildings along the 100 block of  East Main Street, the block just east of the new arena that Blue was supposed to redevelop years ago as “Iron Quarter.”

Now, he gets to tear them down because they’re a safety hazard now that people are pouring into the area to go to the new KFC Yum! Center and to all the new restaurants other investors actually opened.

The first, and most obvious, hole is that a retail/office complex is about the last project banks are going to finance in 2011, unless Cobalt Ventures LLC has tenants signed and ready to go.

If Blue does, they’re not mentioned here.

The second is, the release says Blue has permission to demolish the buildings in 90 days, giving him and Fischer administration officials – who are the same people from the Abramson administration – time to “explore the best method of either preserving the existing facades or recreating facades” with similar architectural appearance in any future development.

I’m sorry. “Recreating the facades … in any future development?”

What they hell have they been doing for three years? Louisville can’t even get a T.J. Maxx downtown, and there’s more and more empty Class-A space in all the downtown towers. But Blue’s going to spend the money to recreate irreplaceable iron facades as part of the redevelopment?

Who knows?

Maybe Blue has some sort of deal all lined up. City officials are in on the deal and this crucial piece of downtown really will get redeveloped.

A more likely outcome is the property will change hands, and some real estate trust will end up holding it intil the financial markets recover.

Or it gets turned into parking lots to support the development that’s already taken place.

And Louisville will be down to about two blocks of the century-old iron facades in the 600 and 700 blocks of West Main.

Here’s that release:

Louisville Metro Government and developer Todd Blue have reached an agreement over the future of a series of historic but severely dilapidated buildings known as Iron Quarter, located on Main Street just east of the KFC Yum! Center.

Under the agreement, Blue will drop his lawsuit against the city – and the City will attempt to help Blue preserve the buildings’ Main Street facades.

According the agreement reached this morning, Blue has permission to demolish the buildings in 90 days because they pose a public safety hazard. During this 90-day period, Blue and the City will explore the best method of either preserving the existing facades or recreating facades with similar architectural appearance in any future development, to preserve the architectural fabric of Main Street.

Meanwhile, Mayor Greg Fischer will ask the Metro Council to appropriate a minimum of $450,000 in the upcoming budget to help cover the cost of recreating the facades, if Blue and the City agree that is the best route. If Blue and the City agree to preserve some or all of the existing facades, the City still may attempt to obtain additional funding from Metro Council.

“I believe this is the best outcome for both parties,” Fischer said. “This keeps taxpayers from further litigation but saves the facades for future generations.”

Fischer said the compromise is similar to what occurred with the historic Coleman building at 3rd and Jefferson Streets, where the façade was saved and incorporated into the downtown Marriott.

“It was incredibly refreshing working with Mayor Fischer and his new administration to start the process of resolving this very important opportunity for our community, which until now was road blocked,” Blue said. “Mayor Fischer’s pro-business attitude is already apparent and he’s less than 30 days into his administration.”

Blue added:  “Our company has a history of preservation and a love for the heritage of this community; our projects have always exemplified this.  It’s great to have someone in a position of leadership who has a desire to work with the business community instead of against it. The facts of this case were always based on our concern for the safety of the community and nothing else. With this settlement, we have agreed to work with the City in order to streamline the issues. Our goal is to create a pathway for all of us to commence what has the potential to be one of the finest public/private partnerships. This is a spectacular and critically important location. As some have said, this will be Louisville’s Times Square!”

Terry Boyd
Terry Boyd has seven years experience as a business/finance journalist, and eight years a military reporter with European Stars and Stripes. As a banking and finance reporter at Business First, Boyd dealt directly with the most influential executives and financiers in Louisville.

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