New arena promises big name restaurants, nightlife, apartments


Posted on September 28, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 22 at 5:23 PM

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(WHAS11) - The countdown is on as the days tick away for the opening of the new downtown basketball arena.

In fact, right now we're 398 days away from completion.

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And some eager business people aren't waiting; they are staking a claim now hoping to cash in on the area around the arena.

Even if you drive through this area every day you may not see much and you may be wondering where the development is.

That's because a lot of what's happening right now is still negotiating leases, getting everything ready but in the coming weeks and months you'll see some big changes right around the arena.

The sounds and signs of progress in downtown Louisville don't just involve the new arena, sometimes they're because of that arena.

"The timing of the arena is critical to our timing. We have designed this project so that we will deliver space just in time for the arena to open," said Valle Jones.

He gave WHAS11 a tour of three buildings dating from the 1870s that will soon become a block of apartments and businesses called Whiskey Row with some unique features.

Valle mentioned one of them being, "a courtyard. And these are very long buildings, all of them, and having this courtyard allows wonderful natural light to come in."

In a matter of months, you'll find more than just as a Bearno's Pizza, a Sol Azecta mexican restaurant will open up in Burwinkle Hendershot and four more restaurants and bars could be close behind and all with dozens of loft apartments overhead.? There is also possibility for more bars lining the backside of the block on Washington Street.

"This is going to be a really lively corner when anything is going on at the arena."

The same reason Tom O'Shea bought the building next door for his newest Irish pub set to open before the end of the year and with so many empty buildings nearby it could be just the beginning.

Folks with the downtown development corporation say you should also keep an eye out for other things in the area because they say there are 2 other restaurants signed up to open up right around the arena.

"But, it's the arena, the city's investment and the private investment that is making this project viable now, even in this economy," said Valle.

None of the developers around here or the downtown development corporation wanted to name any names about who else will be moving in until everything is final. But they assured us several local business owners with names you recognize will be opening up in the next year.