Thursday, February 15, 2007

Zirmed's New Tower


So the rumors were true.
Yet another parking lot in the city's core is going to be filled by a mixed-use project.

On Thursday afternoon the mayor is going to announce a new project for the western section of downtown Louisville - The Zirmed Gateway Towers. (unwieldy name if you ask me)

The project is being spearheaded by downtown Louisville developer Bill Weyland. Weyland, if you didn't already know, is one of the key figures in the renaissance of downtown Louisville in recent years. His company, City Properties, has rehabbed and built several major projects in downtown since 2000. His most current project, the YWCA conversion on Third Street, is now in the finishing stages. He owns a gravel lot fronting Fourth Street that is rumored to be the site of a new mid-rise hotel/residential project. He is also currently renovating a shuttered building on Fourth Street into a new upscale Japanese restaurant. Perhaps his most famous project is one of his older ones - the Glassworks Building on the west side of downtown.

When originally conceived, the Glassworks Building was supposed to be the first anchor in a new Glassworks District. The Glassworks District was envisioned in the early days of former mayor Armstrong's administration. Plans called for an expansive area of homes, offices, and glass-working artists. Phase 1 of the project was the wildly successful renovation of the Snead Manufacturing Building - now known as simply the Glassworks Building. Phase 2, which immediately followed phase 1, was the relatively small conversion of a day-work jail into space for artists. This was completed early in the decade. Since then, nothing has happened.

In fact, the Glassworks District concept had all but evaporated, and many Louisvillians forgot about the project altogether. That all changed today when it was revealed that phase 3 will be two new mid-rise towers on a gravel lot currently across the street from the original Glassworks Building.

The two new towers, at the corner of Market and Roy Wilkins, will rise 12 and 10 stories into the air. With that number of floors, the buildings will be well over 100 feet tall. They will help to form a new gateway for western downtown Louisville when exiting to Ninth Street from I-64.
The main tenant will be Zirmed, which in mid-2006 announced it had outgrown it's current space along West Main, and needed to consolidate operations in a bigger space. And they wanted a landmark building to showcase their epic growth. With his announcement, they will get both of their wishes. They will lease 45,000 square feet of space in the buildings, leaving another 35,000 feet for another tenant. There will be a new restaurant and catering business to be headed by Jeff Jarfi, and space for another large retail tenant. The buildings will also offer 15 to 20 condos, ranging in price from 300,000 dollars to 500,000 dollars. Several units have already been reserved.

Phase 3 will also include a 285 spot parking garage. A small parcel of land will be left undeveloped on the lot for an anticipated phase 4 - perhaps to be small hotel or another residential project.

Financing has been secured through several national banks, and construction is expected to begin in March. The city of Louisville offered the developers a 600,000 dollar low interest loan through a program started in the early 2000's and the city will spend around 180,000 dollars to bury power line, plant trees, and install other beautification elements.

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