LOUISVILLE — Developers of an attention-grabbing skyscraper that would dominate Louisville's skyline welcomed an offer from state officials Friday to assist them in seeking a federal loan, which is seen as crucial to getting the nearly half-billion-dollar project off the ground.
Standing at the downtown construction site where the 62-story Museum Plaza would stand, Gov. Steve Beshear said the state would apply for a $100 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"With this federal loan, we can complete our financing ... get Museum Plaza back under construction ... and create thousands of new jobs for Kentuckians," said Steve Wilson, who along with his wife, Brown-Forman heiress Laura Lee Brown, are part of the development team.
The long-planned project for the high-rise — which would become an eye-catching bookend to the city's skyline — was stalled by the global financial meltdown. Wilson said that at a crucial time for the project, "the bottom fell out of the financial markets, and financing became unavailable."
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Now, the developers and state and local officials are hoping the project is back on track.
The $465 million project would create work for more than 2,300 at the offices, hotels, restaurants and a contemporary arts center.
Beshear stressed that the state's involvement in landing the federal loan would be "risk-free," saying the developers had agreed to personally guarantee the loan.
Craig Greenberg, part of the development team, said the loan application will be sent to HUD in early July, and the developers hope to get a response as quickly as possible.
"Without the HUD loan, it will be extremely challenging to get Museum Plaza back under construction in the near future," Greenberg said.
The application, to be made by the Kentucky Department for Local Government, will mark the first time the state has sought assistance through that particular HUD loan program. Beshear said the loan program has been used to assist more than 1,200 projects nationwide since 1978.