Plans to build a towering luxury hotel along Main Street in downtown Louisville still need final approval from the city.
But after taking a big step forward this week, the developer behind the project is moving ahead with plans to break ground before the end of the year.
The project – a hotel with nearly 170 rooms, a rooftop pool, four restaurants and additional spaces for events – earned unanimous approval from the West Main Street Architectural Review Committee at a Wednesday meeting. The plan will be reviewed by the city’s Development Review Committee next but does not need full Metro Council approval, according to Louisville Forward spokeswoman Caitlin Bowling.
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The plan doesn’t have full approval yet. But Mayor Greg Fischer touted the project in a statement released Thursday morning through the company behind the hotel.
“The Dream Louisville hotel is an exciting project that will add much needed rooms in our downtown, as Bourbonism continues to bring millions of visitors to our doors each year and drive the rapid growth of our hospitality industry,” Fischer said. “Thank you to the partners at Dream Hotel Group and Royal Investments for their vision and commitment to Louisville.”
The hotel is to be built in the 800 block of Main Street, by the Frazier History Museum and Kentucky Science Center. Six historic but vacant buildings on the block will need to be partially demolished to make way for the development, but officials with New York-based Dream Hotel Group plan to preserve the facades of the buildings to keep the new hotel’s aesthetic in line with other buildings on the block.
The architectural review board discussed the project for more than two hours at its Wednesday meeting, with several Louisville preservationists urging members to vote against demolishing any part of the structures, which were built in the mid- to late-1800s.
But other speakers noted the buildings have been vacant for several decades, and committee members found recent changes to the plan that had been submitted by the developer were an improvement over the initial proposal. A local historic preservation specialist had recommended the board deny approval of that project, but reversed course and recommended approving the updated proposal.
Alex Marks, owner of Royal Investments (the development firm behind the project), said the vote marked “a great day for the Dream Louisville team” but noted additional financing still needed to be approved.
“The cost to construct the project must still fit within a budget, and these changes to save more of the buildings substantially added to that cost,” he said Thursday. “We will continue working with the city of Louisville and state of Kentucky on potential incentives to help offset the costs and to keep the project moving.”
Bowling said any financial incentives would need to be approved by Louisville’s Metro Council.
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Still, the gap in funding didn’t stop Marks’ company from setting a construction timetable. Work on the project is expected to begin in late 2022, according to Dream Louisville, with a grand opening expected in early 2025.
Louisville architecture firm Joseph & Joseph designed the hotel alongside Miami-based CUBE3 architects, with additional work from New York-based Wimberly Interiors.
The Dream Hotel Group operates 15 hotels worldwide and said it has an additional 25 locations in development as well. Jay Stein, the company’s CEO, said Wednesday’s vote marked “a critical and exciting step.”
“This location marks an incredible addition to our growing portfolio, and we are proud to play a role in creating what will be one of the most spectacular rehabilitations in Bourbon City,” Stein said.
Reporter Ben Tobin contributed. Lucas Aulbach can be reached at email@example.com, 502-582-4649 or on Twitter @LucasAulbach†