Elizabeth Kramer conducted this Monday, Feb. 13, with Museum Plaza developers Craig Greenberg, Steve Poe and Steve Wilson and their spokesman, Bob Gunnell of Peritus Public Relations at the offices of Poe Companies.
When and how did you meet?
GREEENBERG: I was working with Steve Wilson and Steve Poe and Laura Lee Brown on various different projects around town and knew what both of their interests and goals and ambitions were, and, both, with their commitment to downtown development it sounded like Steve Poe would be a wonderful asset to work with Laura Lee, Steve Wilson and myself on this project. I think the very first meeting was, I believe, between Steve Wilson, Steve Poe and myself where it was just a get-to-know-you lunch and we started talking about the project.
Where did you have lunch?
WILSON: In the brand new Marriott.
WILSON: In a private room off of Blu. It was very impressive. I was very impressed with not only the quality of the interior but more that he got the building built the way he did it. Everyone said he couldn’t do it, you know.
WILSON: Well, it was too big and it you’d never get it paid for. But he did it.
What did you think of those charges when you set out?
POE: I don’t know if they were charges. Anytime you propose something new, big or different there are always skeptics. And the only way that you’ll quiet those skeptics is just do. I hate to sound like the Nike commercial, but that’s reality. And I think that’s a big reason that I got involved in this project, is that once we all met — meaning myself, Craig, Steve and Laura Lee — talked for a while, talked about the reality of what they wanted to do, talked about the commitment that would need to be made to accomplish that — I could see that these were people that were committed to downtown, they were committed to the arts, they were committed to giving back. And so that big commitment said this is something we can do.
There were some proposals for the land in 2001 a while after Vencor had pulled out and then the land belonged to the parking authority, and I know that you (Poe) were with one or two groups that were proposing developments down there and that you (Wilson) and your wife were also proposing a museum. But had you never met at that point?
POE: I had never even thought about developing this site until I met them.
GREEENBERG: That was for other projects downtown, not for the same piece of property.
POE: None of us have ever been involved in any initiative, in any attempt to develop this piece of property before.
WILSON: Laura Lee and I made a bid on that property when it was up for auction. And we had the top bid except for the city. And at the time, we thought it wasn’t fair for the city to be bidding against private citizens, but obviously they had something in mind. And I mean that they wanted to control what went there. They didn’t want something that wouldn’t be beneficial to the downtown area. And the fact that they kept the property and now have given it to us for this project is a good deal.
And that was 2001 that you bid on it?
WILSON: Well, I don’t remember the date but whenever the public action for that land (was). It was in the paper and they took sealed bids.
What makes successful architecture? What makes it successful in Louisville?
WILSON: That’s a hard one, except it takes innovation. It takes a good deal of study in terms of what we’ve learned from Josh (Prince-Ramus of OMA), anyway, is how to think about what the purpose is and the traffic patterns, and some of the things that are not so sexy in the beginning, but they lead to the success of the building. The best example in the world, I think, is the Seattle library that they were so successful with and they went about trying to decide what kind of library would be the right library for the future, and, in fact. We did that on this building. We went to other cities and not only looked at architecture, but actually asked the question: What should a contemporary art museum be in 2050? And there might not be any examples today of what that future museum will be like, so we are going through that process. And, of course, going back to the Seattle library, having gone through that process, it’s the most successful library in the country right now. And it’s totally untraditional and not the way that it’s been done in the past.
So, you actually posed that question: What museum will be successful in 2050?
WILSON: Yes. What will art be like? We’re into video art now and technology art. What will it be? And how can we design a space that will accommodate what we think of as art today and be flexible enough to contain art that we can’t even imagine today?
POE: This will sound pretty simple, but the first thing is that successful architecture is a building that gets built — because there are lots of pretty drawings, lots of things that happen that actually never get off the paper. And I think the second part of that, and I think that is where Steve’s going, is the longevity of the building and its intended use and that the public uses it. That it’s used for its intended use and it functions properly. And then I think aesthetics certainly plays into that, but, in a lot of respects, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And there are lots of buildings out there that I may personally like and someone else can’t stand and vice versa. And I think the good thing about this group is everybody made a commitment to study that, talk about that and actually travel across the world and look at that. And there were many times that we would see a building in Europe or New York or somewhere, and I’d say, “I like that.” And Steve would go, “Gosh, I can’t stand that.”
POE: But the reality is that at the end of the day is — is it something that is successful and something that got built and something that served its purpose?
WILSON: Well, the Time Warner building is one we both liked, I think. Different parts and how it works.
POE: And then on the contemporary side of the building, I can’t think of the name of it in Lille, France, over the top of the train station. We all stood there and said, “We get this.” It was totally off the wall, but we all stood there and said, “We get this. We understand this.”
What parts of the Time Warner building were you impressed with?
POE: I was impressed with the total integration of the Time Warner building. You have shops. You have office. You have location, which is very important, just like (with) this building. It’s right off the park, right off the main street. It’s views.
POE; Condos. I mean, residential.
POE: Hotel. We’re not Time Warner. We’re not Central Park, but we’ll have great views. We’ll be in a central location and we have mixed use.
Were there other mixed-use places that you looked at?
WILSON: Yes, the one in Lille.
And what were the uses of that one?
GREEENBERG: The one in Lille had a convention facility, a theater and student housing, and it was right next to a mall that had a lot of student housing and a lot of other market-rate housing above and integrated with the shopping mall.
WILSON: We tried to get into the student housing and got kicked out.
POE: Other example that we all take for granted, mixed-use, that we often may have been to (is) the Water Tower in Chicago. You have retail. You have office. You have hotel. You have condos.
WIILSON: Trump Tower, in a way. Everything but a hotel. I’m not sure any though have universities, university classes and a museum, all the components that we’re talking about.
POE: We talked to a lot of people. And we talked to great architects, and Steve and Laura Lee and Craig, and when I got involved, and David Mohney had made a commitment to really go out and identify the great firms of the world and the great architects in the up and coming firms. A lot of these things I’ve found over my business life have a lot to do with relationships and chemistry. And I don’t think that there was any doubt that there was one hour or two hours after we met Josh we all came to the conclusion that this was a bond and he understood what we wanted. I think we understood where he was going and, you know, from that point on I think it was about our relationship with him as much as anything else.
WILSON: Totally. We hired Josh Prince-Ramus, actually. We met him first and he represents a company to us. You know there are a lot of — the world knows OMA and there’s a big reputation there but our relationship is with Josh Remus. It’s a great relationship. We think he’s one of the great young architects of the world.
POE: He put on a presentation for us initially about how they solved, resolved the decision-making on the Seattle library that impressed all of us because it was so straightforward. It wasn’t complicated at all. And, I think, we thought if he thinks that way, he could produce a building that looks like this, following this following this rational thought process, I think we can understand him.
GREEENBERG: And he also impressed us greatly in addition to everything that Steve and Steve have said, they also know how to design to a budget. And their past projects prove that they not only know how to meet an overall budget but they know how to meet budgets within budgets and make things very efficient and work for us as developers. That was something we liked a lot
WILSON: We talk about the Seattle library a lot, but they’re doing the same thing with a theater in Dallas now — totally unconventional and it’s probably going to work better than any other theater ever has.
What set him apart from other architects you’ve worked with?
POE: I think Craig just answered that question, and, overall, I think it was his willingness to listen. It wasn’t an attitude that, “OK, I’m a great architect and I’m going to build this building or whatever this building costs, you’ve got to write a check.” It was, “What do you want to accomplish? I want to make sure the building gets built, too.” And he listened to us about cost concerns and very much listened to Steve and Laura Lee, and, I think, embraced the concept that the building had to revolve around art. Art didn’t revolve around the building. The building revolved around art. And I think they came back with designs and different programs that showed us that they were serious. And I think they followed all the way through with that.
OMA identifies itself as a firm that strives to create change? What kind of change does Museum Plaza seek?
WILSON: Well, I think we look at it as a city within a building. The change that we expect it to have on Louisville is to have more activity downtown and — as we call 24/7 — we expect students to be active. We just expect it to create more commerce, more activity, incite more economic development, more projects on the west end of Main Street. I expect it to be a catalyst for many things.
POE: I’m going to answer that by going back to the very beginning when I first met Steve and Laura Lee and Craig. They said, “We want to have a building about art. We want the arts to be a big part of it.” But at the same time one of our mission statements said, which I think you guys have followed through on, Is to stop — well, you can’t stop — but slow down urban sprawl. One of the ways of slowing down urban sprawl is to make our urban centers a place where more people want to live, more people want to come. And you actually set out those two goals — and I was a little skeptical that you put those two goals together — and can actually achieve them. I think this building achieves that.
WILSON: Something I’d like to say about that, too. We talk a lot about people moving downtown and not moving to the suburbs. I think people seem to think if you — when we first started our hotel it was as if we were making a sacrifice that, you know, we could have made more money if we put the money somewhere else. So if this new building is successful I think it will show developers and investors that it can be done downtown, too. It’s not a sacrifice. I mean, like Steve has said many times, we want to do something good but we don’t want to lose our shirts at it either. So, I think it’s going to be a win-win and entice more projects downtown.
What were your misgivings and what were they about OMA in the beginning?
POE: Anytime you start to talk to a world-renowned architectural firm, and we talked to some that I think would fall into this category — they started to think that they’re bigger than the building, bigger than the project, bigger than the city. And they don’t listen. And we were just concerned, “Are these guys really going to listen to us and are we able to explain to them that we want a building that works, we want a building that has art, we want a building that will make money and we want a building that is going to get built?” And, at the end of the day, they could do that.
What do you appreciate about OMA’s methodology?
GREEENBERG: They approach each project as a first project for them, and I don’t think on this project or any of their projects they came in with a preconceived notion of what the end product was going to look like. I think that that was very important for this project, because it is so different. It is such a challenging site. As Josh talks about their “hyper-rational” approach to projects and problem-solving, what we really appreciate and what we really like about them is that they analyze the complexity of the development program, the complexity of the site and try to find a solution that works best for the community and for us as developers. And we think they’ve achieved that here.
What were the major questions you posed during the creation of the design, during the creative process?
POE: Can we afford this?
GREEENBERG: That was the major question.
POE: That was always the major question. That’s how we started every meeting. Can we afford this?
WILSON: And there were times that we said that we can’t afford this.
POE: And there were times that we said that we can’t afford this.
With certain portions of the design?
GREEENBERG: Well, before we focused on this tract with that led the design you see today there were several different initial possible solutions before we had time to study any one. Several of those possible solutions that have since been discarded, we immediately knew wouldn’t work for various reasons.
Are those part of the exhibition?
POE: You can go right through those models and see how things started evolving and how we started getting to the end. They’re in sequence.
WILSON: Until the end we actually had one tower on the other side of Seventh Street and that was totally — it looked good but we didn’t realize at the time that that was not possible.
GREEENBERG: For structural reasons and for cost reasons.
Prince-Ramus also said that OMA emphasizes creating a design that meets the client’s needs through a collaborative process. How did you interpret this collaborative process beforehand and did it meet your expectations?
POE: From my perspective, I don’t think I had a preconceived notion. We just wanted someone that would listen and we could have a good dialogue back and forth. And I think we went into the whole discussion with OMA and the process with OMA with a very open mind. I think they did the same thing for us because this is the first time OMA USA has really done a for-profit project this big. And so they’re always used to working in the public sector with a pre-determined budget and then trying back into it. And we were pushing them more for — and they listened to us — this part has to make money, this part has to make money, this part has to function this way — in bringing it all together.
WILSON: I was impressed with how fast they work. Sometimes when we had a meeting in Kentucky they would leave a team member back in New York so that they could respond within minutes from the decisions we made. They were on the telephone calling back and the amount of work they did between meetings was shocking.
GREEENBERG: These people are the hardest working people I know.
WILSON: Day and night.
In that collaborative process, how has that influenced how you work or think about projects now or even outside of this part of getting the building built?
GREEENBERG: Well, the project has only just begun. So this collaboration will last for four more years and until the building is occupied and up and running. Going from the drawings that we have today to construction drawings and getting it built and working on cost estimations and value engineering so that it meets budget and that the project will work will continued collaboration for the next four years.
So, he will be a part of that?
GREEENBERG: No. The work with OMA has just begun.
WILSON: From my point of view I hope I can collaborate with Steve Poe again — continually.
POE: We’re together for four years, Steve.
WILSON: Maybe longer.
Do you have other project ideas?
WILSON: Oh, of course.
POE: Steve’s full of ideas.
POE: I’ve had some too.
WILSON: Steve has a lot of other projects going.
At Actors Theatre of Louisville in November, Prince-Ramus’ said, “Although Louisville may not be aware of the outside world, but the outside world is aware of Louisville.” How did you interpret that?
WILSON: Well, Actors Theater, Kentucky Derby, the liquor industry. We have a lot of things her that make us part of the world, and I think maybe some Louisville citizens are sort of isolationists. They are not as aware as New Yorkers perhaps, but I think now, especially from what we’re finding out, bloggers around the world are talking about this building. And you know we’ve had good architecture in Louisville for a while, too. The Humana building was worldwide news when it was first built. So, I think we’re just becoming more of a world-class citizen.
POE: I think it’s that and I think the other thing — now you’re asking me to interpret Josh and that’s a challenge in itself — but I think his meaning was that we, meaning the natives here, take things for granted sometimes, that people who come from the outside see and say you have so many assets here. And Steve touched on some of them, whether it’s Derby, whether it’s industry. We have a waterfront development design by Hargreaves (Associates) that is internationally renowned. When these guys came into town and went up and down West Main Street — that architecture, you known, is unique. And there aren’t many cities across the world that have those type of things. So I think that a lot of the great things we have here that sometimes all of us who’ve grown up here just take for granted and people who come here see it and think, “Wow. That’s such a great asset to your community.”
WILSON: Tourists see things in a community before local citizens do. It doesn’t matter where you are.
Are there any examples of things you took for granted around here until somebody else from the outside pointed it out to you?
GREEENBERG: I don’t know if we took things for granted, but I know that on Josh’s first trip to Louisville he was absolutely amazed and extremely impressed with the activity in downtown Louisville, the amount of development underway or planned in a pretty small area. And it was something that we just took for granted, that it’s happening right now around us. But to him seeing that kind of revitalization commitment in a central business district was impressive and really got his interest.
WILSON: Muhammad Ali (Center) was under construction when he first got here. The new baseball stadium.
POE: I mean, like stepping up for the glass program U of L, a university saying I want to be a part of something. Individuals stepping up and saying, “Let’s get the arts moving, continuing the momentum.” I think he saw all those things and I just think sometimes we all just take for granted.
WILSON: Also the interest of the University of Louisville and President (James) Ramsey, the excitement he had for the art program.
POE: That personal, you know, we’re a big city but we’re a small town. And I think a lot of it was the personal touch of the people involved. Hey, I can really talk to that guy and we can get something done very quickly.
What challenges and opportunities does building a mixed-use structure pose to the community?
WILSON: Well, we talked a lot about that already, I think. The challenge might be to understand that so much can happen in one building. Steve’s talked a lot about the fact that taking it in its individual parts, this building is not so unusual. But putting them together makes it extremely unusual.
POE: I guess one of the challenges would be to do this you’re building a big building.
WILSON: Our challenge is to find enough condos and lofts for all of the people who calling right now.
How many calls have you received?
WILSON: A lot. I think four today and 68 of them over the Internet.
POE: We have, I know over 100 e-mails and phone calls about it.
WILSON: Craig has one from Puerto Rico today.
Are most of them local?
GREEENBERG: Either local or people who are from Louisville and somewhere else right now and want to have a presence in Louisville and heard about it or read about it and want this to be their Louisville presence.
When the engineers had a look at the design and were able to examine it, what were their reactions?
GREEENBERG: That’s the other impressive thing about OMA. We’ve been dealing with reality since day one. Of the designs that OMA had been working on have always been worked on hand in hand with engineers and cost estimators and contractors so that we know — A — it can be built and — B — how much it’s going to cost.
POE: Down when we were getting to crunch time we were actually turning things around every seven days.
What do you mean by “turning things around”?
POE: We looked at the design. We made changes in the design. That design went to the structural guys. The structural guys checked off “these things can be done”; went to the contractor, the contractor said that adds this much or it saves you this much.
WILSON: Or it could be done but it was expensive.
How can Museum Plaza affect Louisville?
GREEENBERG: I think Museum Plaza will enormously impact Louisville in many ways. As Mayor Abramson said, it is an “exclamation point” on downtown revitalization It will draw worldwide attention for its architecture. It will bring people of all types and backgrounds together in once central location, whether to enjoy are, whether it’s to walk on the public plaza, whether it’s to eat at a restaurant or come to work everyday. And I really think it will, hopefully, change the way Louisville and Louisvillians and Kentuckians see themselves as a much more mobile and progressive community than many people here give ourselves credit for.
What makes this building radical?
POE: Well, any time you build an acre and a half, 22 stories in the air you can call that radical. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.
WILSON: The diagonal elevator too.
POE. Diagonal elevator. The size. I mean it’s 1.2 million square feet. And I go back to what Craig said, what I said all the time. I mean there’s no one part of this building that’s big, even by Louisville standards, but when you put all those pieces together it becomes very big. And that’s radical thinking in itself. I mean, building a building from the inside out, to a certain degree, and that is that the building needs to revolve around the art, is also a radical, different way of thinking about a mixed use building.
WILSON: But this plaza, basically, will be the public space and the lobbies for all its separate units. So you’ll pass by the museum as you go to work, or as you go to a restaurant or as you go to your condominium.
How specifically will this be a 24/7 environment? What do you envision?
GREEENBERG: People will be coming to work in the morning. They will be leaving their condominiums and lofts in the morning. At mid-morning, school children will be coming to the museum. At lunchtime, people from around the downtown community will be coming eat lunch and shop. In the afternoon, people will be leaving work, coming back to the museum. Hotel guests will be coming and going at all times of day. And so there will be all kinds of different activity, literally, 24 hours a day. Unlike other projects where there is one particular, two particular uses, the heavy flow of traffic in and out of the building are in very specific, spread out times over the course of the day. Here there will be constant activity.
Abramson said that the city provided the land? How did that work?
GREEENBERG: We expect that the city will contribute the land. Currently nearly all the property is owned by the city right now and we expect, as part of the development agreement with the city, that they will contribute that land to the project.
When will that be final?
GREEENBERG: In the next couple of months.
How did the costs rise to from $70 million to $380 million?
POE: The program kept expanding. When we first started we were thinking of the art gallery and we were thinking of other uses that could go with that, whether that would be the office or mixed use, office or condos or retail. As we studied all of that, we came to the conclusion that we needed all of those things. So, to get the scale of the building and efficiencies in the building, we had to grow some of the pieces. And that’s not unusual. Actually it turned out to be a good thing, because we were more focused on what the cost was per square foot and what we could lease it for and what we could sell it for, than just what the total project cost was or was not.
WILSON: It actually becomes less expensive per square foot once you’ve built the foundation and all of the infrastructure. If you think you have uses for the space, it’s better to have more square footage.
POE: I think it was also the realization that we needed to deal with not just our site, which is small, but we needed to deal with all of the public spaces all the way from the Ali Center all the way to Ninth Street. That whole plaza needed to be done. Parking needed to be addressed. Seventh Street and River Road needed to be addressed. So, to get people to come to the building, we needed to address all of those issues.
So when you say programming, what do you mean exactly?
POE: Uses of the space.
WILSON: This plan is going to make pre-existing museums, and what we are starting to call museum row, the Art and Craft Foundation —
GREEENBERG: — the Science Center, Louisville Slugger Museum, Frazier Arms Museum, Actors Theatre, Kentucky Center —
WILSON: Especially all those that have Washington Street at their back and are currently cut off by the floodwall. We’re going to be opening all of that up so that they basically have two front doors.
POE: A very good example of this is that when we are done and the bridge is built over Sixth Street you’ll be able to park in our garage or the garage at Eighth Street and walk all the way to the Kentucky Center for the Arts.
How will you establish the contemporary museum? What are the first steps and the timeline for that?
WILSON: Well, the timeline for all of the components of the building are the same. We’ve set 2010 as the completion date. The museum — I just returned from the MASS MoCA, which is the new facility in Massachusetts — and the museum, it’s actually going to be a facility without a permanent collection, which sets us apart from The Speed Museum. So, we will not have a large dedicated space for storage. We won’t have to maintain the collection. We won’t have to build an endowment for purchasing art. So, that’s a major difference from the way most people think of museum. They’re called kunsthalles in Europe. The Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati is the same way. So, by that format we’ll be able to bring shows of art that have been put together by other museums. MASS MoCA s just closing a show that’s going to Australia now. So, the programming will be very much different and the administration of that will be different. And we are investigating how to best do that currently.
So, is the first step hiring a curator or a director?
WILSON: Josh is continuing to discuss with other museum directors and designers how they’ve done it. And when we get closer to understanding the concept of mixed use — that’s an unusual concept for art museums in the first place — then we’ll be talking with some consultants about space planning. So we have a lot more learning process to go through.
When would you hope to have a curator on board?
WILSON: Well, I’m not even sure we’d have “a” curator. We might have a director and have each show curated by different people. That again can give us more of an international feeling here and get a new perspective on it every time we open a show.
When would be a time to have a director?
WILSON: Certainly before the time it opens. Maybe in a year, two years.
And how will you chose a curator or director?
WILSON: That’s hard to say. We look for experience, hopefully, with similar background of what we’re looking for. We’ve only seen a few facilities that are anywhere close to what we are wanting to do. We’d make a worldwide search and find someone who fits the chemistry of the team.
POE: One thing I want to interject here, you keep saying, when’s this going to start and this process for them — and I’ve been involved in it 11, 10 months. They’ve been doing this for over two years. They started with what David Mohney two years ago studying museums across the world, not just Europe, everywhere. And they’re committed to — and they’ve got the time here — to find what will best work for this community, and that may be something that’s very unique and outside of the box. And the meetings that I’ve been in with them, they’re studying what works here, what works here, and trying to pull the best of all worlds. And that gives us a museum that has all kinds of abilities that museums in most cities don’t have.
Regarding the museum, is there going to be interaction with the MFA program?
WILSON: Yes, definitely. We do know that.
Do you know any specifics that you envision?
WILSON: The intent is for them to be on the same level. There’ll be the ability for students to go back and forth between exhibition spaces. There will be exhibition space just for the students’ work. You know, they might be combined with international artists’ work. So, that’s a unique opportunity for students who will come here. I know the university wants to make their glass program world renowned, one of the top. So, I think the presence of this building will help get the attention but I know they’re looking for the kind of expertise in this teaching program to meet that expectation as well.
How important is the presence of U of L’s MFA program to Museum Plaza and what are the hurdles in getting it there?
WILSON: Well, it’s important for this 24/7 concept because, obviously, with students in the building that will bring a whole different context. And we have the ability for students to live there as well as work there. We expect that activity to be going on many hours past the traditional 9-to-5 day. And from judging from the phone calls I’m getting I don’t know that we have hurdles there. Getting the building built is the first thing that we know. Now we’re going to do that, so.
GREEENBERG: When the university committed to this project they committed to enter into negotiations with us. Now that we’re further along the path we can start talking to the university about costs, use and specifics like that. We think we’re close. Within the next several months we’ll be able to come to a much more formal agreement with them.
What are the expected annual costs to run the building? What are the expected revenues?
POE: We’re not there yet. And if we were there, I still wouldn’t tell you.
But when will you know that?
POE: We have outlines of all that stuff.
How did you measure demand for the space of each of these uses (hotel, condominiums, lofts, office space and retail space)?
POE: I know the local market and from that then we talked with lots of other people in the local market who I would classify as experts, whether it would be Phil Scherer, you know over at Commercial Kentucky; looking at hotel reports; looking at conventions that are being booked into the city through 2010 and you get an ability to forecast demand; same thing on the housing. You can see how the housing in downtown, the trend line is moving up; so we looked at all those indicators and the fact that our office market is sitting on 94 percent, in fact there was an article in Business First this week. The market is going to be the best it’s been since 1994. Take a look at all those indicators.
GREENBERG: Steve’s experience in developing downtown hotels and downtown residential projects has been invaluable to this project and helping provide a reality check for what this project can absorb and how much residential and hotel and office space to put on the market is a realistic amount. So, his recent experience in developing very successful downtown projects has just been invaluable to the project.
When it comes to the actual retail tenants and the restaurants, how will you chose them and are some of them already chosen?
GREEENBERG: There have been expressions of interest from users of all parts of this building. We have not made commitments to any tenants or any buyers or any users of any of the space yet.
POE: I think, the island, as we refer to it — once we get the museum component there and the U of L component and other components then we will develop a theme for who we want up there and we’ll target them.
Is there any planned presence of Louisville business?
POE: Gosh, we haven’t even thought about that yet.
GREEENBERG: I know one thing we’re committed to — and that Stave and Laura Lee have really been driving from the beginning of this project — is to have a farmers market and a grocery-type component of this project that sells locally and regionally grown produce And we’re pretty confident that that would be locally owned.
You don’t know who is going to do that yet?
GREEENBERG: We’re talking to several interested parties.
POE: And we’re committed to locally homegrown artists and the U lf L program and homegrown exhibits.
How important is community to Museum Plaza? How do you interpret community? Who does “community” include?
GREEENBERG: Our definition of community is very broad and inclusive. We think that this project is so unique and has so many aspects that will appeal to all different kinds of people across the state, region and world. So regardless of what your interests are, regardless of what your economic situation is, regardless of what your job is, we think there’ll be something at Museum Plaza that attracts you here and makes it a place that you want to come and spend some time. This project is not about appealing to one specific type of person.
Why was Thursday’s event “invitation only,” as printed in The Courier-Journal?
GREEENBERG: I think that was a little bit of a miscommunication. I mean we tried to get the word out marketing wise, but they did not take tickets at the door.
POE: Actually we sent e-mails out to lots of people. We had certain people we wanted to make sure that got an initiation, but it was open to the public.
And why was The Courier-Journal given five months of exclusive coverage and nobody else?
Gunnell: I’ll answer that. Because they put us in touch, they put a reporter. They came to us and offered the story. They said that they would cover this story with a reporter, do an in-depth on the story. They wanted an exclusive, so that’s why we decided to go in that direction. II was a decision that was left up to the development team. And we felt that that was in the best interest of the project because so many other projects in Louisville haven’t been given a fair Louisville hearing, we were responsive to the entire community. No one else had approached us at that point.