An early version for downtown

LOUISVILLE—City officials have expressed for some time a desire to renovate and expand downtown’s Kentucky International Convention Center, built in 1977, and enhance Louisville’s reputation as a convention town. Now, Omni Hotels & Resorts has given that desire a boost by entering into an agreement with the city to develop a 600-room convention center hotel just one block from the convention center.

The new Omni Louisville Hotel will also feature 70,000-square-feet of meeting space, a spa, fitness center, two full-service restaurants, rooftop pool-side café, street level retail venue, and a lobby lounge. The developers expect to receive a LEED Silver certification.

Located on Water Company Block at W. Liberty and 3rd St., the hotel will add amenities to “Fourth Street Live!,” the city’s most popular entertainment, retail and office district, which draws more than 4.5 million visitors per year. The Cordish Companies, the district’s developer, will partner with Omni, the city and state to develop the new $261-million mixed-use complex.

In addition to the hotel, it will also feature residential apartments, a grocery store-anchored retail space and an underground parking garage that serves all three. The city will donate the land to Omni and Cordish, part of a public/private partnership between the city, state and developers that will fund the project.

“This project is a major infusion in our downtown and to the city’s entire economy,” says Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “It will create jobs, both temporary construction positions and permanent jobs, and it will boost our convention and tourism industry as Omni provides a new level of luxury hotel.”

“Louisville is a thriving city, and we are ready to work in partnership with the city and the Cordish Companies to develop a full-service, four-diamond hotel that will bring more meetings and conventions, as well as business and leisure travelers to the area,” says Mike Deitemeyer, president of Omni Hotels.

Omni currently plans to open the hotel, its first in Kentucky, in 2017. It also plans to incorporate local touches from Louisville to the hotel and the retail venue. And in addition to the new hotel’s meeting space, guests will have access to the 300,000-square-feet at the international convention center.

“The addition of a four-diamond Omni convention hotel, downtown grocery store and upscale apartments will be a major catalyst for growing the city’s convention business and helping to make the downtown a 24-7 community,” says Cordish vice president Blake Cordish.