Make it a Double: Entertainment, Hospitality Firms Invest Heavily in Louisville

The face of Louisville is changing rapidly, but it has leveraged what the state of Kentucky is historically known for best, bourbon. Louisville is a short drive from most of the legendary distilleries in the Commonwealth. However, the downtown Urban Bourbon Trail is booming with tourism and many brands actually distilling their spirits onsite. Jim Beam’s Urban Stillhouse, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Copper & Kings, Angel’s Envy Distillery and Rabbit Hole Distillery are locations where patrons can sample and buy their drink of choice and learn about the history of these companies and the evolution of the industry as a whole.

Most recently in June, Brown-Forman Corp. opened its Old Forester Distilling Co. experience at the newly restored Whiskey Row on Main Street. The company is not only distilling and sharing its history at the site, but like others on the Urban Bourbon Trail there are areas to host receptions and parties. Duluth Trading opened next door on Whiskey Row late last year to begin to fill a growing need for retail space downtown.

Convention Center, Hotels
After two years being closed, earlier this month Louisville celebrated the reopening of the $207 million renovation and reconstruction of the Kentucky International Convention Center. The impact on the Louisville convention business over the last two years has been significant, but recovery is anticipated to be quick with a brand new state of the art convention center in the heart of downtown.

Charles Dahlem, Dahlem Realty Co.

Hotel construction has been brisk in anticipation of an uptick in convention business coming to the convention center and the downtown bourbon experience. Omni Hotels & Resorts built a new 30-story hotel and condo development with restaurants, a small grocery store and a hidden speakeasy just off the lobby.

Not to be outdone, next door to the Omni, Marriott International completed a $30 million renovation to the Louisville Marriott Downtown hotel and recently opened its AC Hotel concept in the Nulu district. The global hospitality company is also working on a dual-branded concept on Whiskey Row. The Moxy and Hotel Distil will be built with an estimated $90 million investment by White Lodging, REI Real Estate Services and Louisville-based Poe Cos.

Additionally, Louisville’s iconic Galt House announced it is partnering with Wyndham Hotel Group for an $80 million renovation to the hotel that commenced in June of this year. Louisville’s Swope Design Group has been contracted for the interior design of the project.

Several other new hotels in and around Louisville are under construction or working on significant renovations.

Kicking Off New Retail
The Cordish Cos. has added new offerings to its Fourth Street Live! development to freshen offerings in the city’s downtown entertainment district, such as Whiskey Dry and Pizza Bar Louisville. These newer additions complement the already hip and exciting places such as Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse, Hard Rock Café and Brazeiros Brazilian Steakhouse.

Growth will only continue to explode with the addition of the Louisville City FC’s new professional soccer stadium that just recently broke ground in the Butchertown neighborhood, just outside downtown. The stadium is slated to be completed by the start of the 2020 season. The 11,300-seat facility is projected to cost over $193 million and will be a catalyst for additional construction and rejuvenation of this historic neighborhood in Louisville.

Downtown is not the only part of Louisville that is gaining growth. Lowe’s Home Improvement has announced it will be the anchor tenant for Barrister Commercial’s Southpointe development on Louisville’s south side, and Topgolf intends to open its first Louisville location at Oxmoor Center.

Infrastructure Improvements
Thanks to the completion of the two bridges over the Ohio River, the Abraham Lincoln Bridge downtown and the Lewis and Clark Bridge on the East End, as well as the associated highway approaching the bridges, southern Indiana and Louisville have the infrastructure to handle its growth for the foreseeable future.

There is now significant buzz and activity along the outer corridor at the new East End bridge on both the Indiana and Kentucky sides of the river. People on both sides of the river now have quick access to each other’s neighborhoods.
Louisville is proving that it is becoming more than just a town to visit in the spring for Thunder Over Louisville or the Kentucky Derby — it is a great place to live and visit most any weekend.

— By Charles Dahlem, CCIM, President, Dahlem Realty Co. This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Southeast Real Estate Business.

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