A boutique hotel, office space or residential apartments might soon be taking up room in downtown Owensboro’s old Anderson’s Department Store building, the current home of the Owensboro Museum of Science and History.
City Manager Nate Pagan said Thursday that the city, which owns the 90,000-square-foot building at 122 E. Second St., is seeking developers to purchase and redevelop the space into a mixed-use facility.
“There has been talk off and on over the last several years about redevelopment of the property,” Pagan said.
According to the official request for proposals, the building lies within the Place Making Master Plan developed by the city in 2009 as Owensboro launched a $150 million downtown revitalization project.
“This Master Plan included construction of a new riverfront park, events center and hotels that have all been completed. “The property that is the subject of this RFP is located within this major community investment.”
Pagan said there is a desire to keep the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, which was established in 1966 and housed in various locations before relocating downtown, in the downtown area as it is an asset to the community.
“They have a 15-year lease that was signed in 2015,” he said.
According to the bid documents, “the city’s preference is for the museum to remain in the building in a smaller footprint under the same conditions as the current lease, with an extension of said lease.”
Prospective bidders must provide a concept for the city to evaluate regarding what the new museum footprint would be and how the remaining space will be used, Pagan said.
“That is something that we would negotiate with the potential buyer,” he said. “The RFP is set up to be really open-ended or flexible.”
“The lease terms would be a part of that discussion as well.”
According to the bid documents, “this project shall be redeveloped in a way that respects its history and its relationship to Second Street and downtown. It shall create uses within the building attracting new people and activity to its space, as well as the downtown area, the building must provide space for uses that currently are under-represented in the downtown area and add to the overall vitality of downtown as a mixed-use destination.”
Pagan said that museum officials expressed that a hotel would be the most compatible concept, but the city would entertain other ideas as well.
The Owensboro Museum of Science and History said in a statement Thursday that, “the Museum has been a part of Owensboro since 1966 and has provided countless children’s educational experiences and community programs to people both in Owensboro and 22 surrounding counties in the tri-state area. In order to maintain these programs and to serve the thousands of visitors who come to the Museum each year, the Museum will need to maintain adequate space to meet the community’s needs.
“The Owensboro Museum of Science and History’s Board of Directors and staff look forward to working with the City of Owensboro concerning the future configuration of the building and how sharing the building with a potential new owner will be executed.”
Kathy Olson, the museum’s CEO, said Thursday that the museum would be making no further comments about the redevelopment project at this time.
Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, email@example.com, 270-228-2837