Crane comes down, hope goes up for Whiskey Row

Updated: Oct. 27, 2017 at 10:01 PM EDT
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Main Street between 1st and 2nd will be closed while the crane is dismantled. (Source: Doug...
Main Street between 1st and 2nd will be closed while the crane is dismantled. (Source: Doug Drushke, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It was a part the Louisville skyline for months, but the multi-story construction crane high above Whiskey Row will be dismantled this weekend.

The event is an indication that the city is moving forward with ambitious plans for this pivotal location.

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"There's a real vibrancy here," Rebecca Matheny, Executive Director of Louisville Downtown Partnership, said. "And I think with the mix of housing, fantastic new retail that's going in, it's really going to be a game changer."

Location is everything. The historic collection of buildings known as Whiskey Row literally rose out of the ashes from a destructive fire in 2015. It is next to the KFC Yum! Center and down the block from the expanding Louisville Convention Center.

Construction of residential space in the upper floors is complete. Duluth Trading, the first new retail tenant, is ready for its soft opening on street level.

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"Last week this was all boxes so a lot of hard work," Duluth Trading store manager Ryan Pasbrig said, while looking at the fully stocked shelves and racks of new clothes.

Even though the store has not officially opened, customers were already shopping.

"They're coming in," Kim Payne, Duluth Trading Assistant manager, said. "We had them coming in before we even opened."

A pair of new hotels will rise behind the historic facades next year. The Old Forester Distillery will be open by Derby.

When finished, it is expected to be the perfect place for big event crowds to eat, drink and sleep.

Main Street between 1st and 2nd will be closed to traffic while the tower crane is dismantled and moved. The operation should be over and the street re-opened by 11 pm Monday.

To encourage foot traffic over the weekend, Louisville Downtown Partnership is promoting an event called "Crane on Main."  It is aimed at luring people in to open restaurants and bars with some special bourbon cocktails and a contest.

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