In a decade, redeveloped Henry Clay has influenced revitalization of Louisville downtown core

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 25, 2017) — Ten years ago, The Henry Clay, a mixed-use development with apartments and condos, retail storefronts, and multiple event spaces, opened its doors and began a renewal of its surrounding downtown Louisville neighborhood.

A successful venture in its own right, The Henry Clay annually hosts an average of 50 weddings, dozens of performances in its theater, and hundreds of business events and fundraisers in its event space, said Mariah Weyland Gratz, CEO of building owner and developer Weyland Ventures.

The Henry Clay, located on the southwest corner of Third and Chestnut streets, has been home to numerous events for organizations including Creative Mornings, Level Up Lou, Made Market, Greater Louisville Inc., Louisville Business First, the Junior League of Louisville, and Family Scholar House among others.

“With great pains, our firm revitalized what had been a deteriorating former YWCA building that appeared destined for demolition,“ Gratz said. “Our efforts with The Henry Clay keenly illustrate our core mission and exemplify what can be accomplished with a combination of private investment and tax incentives such as New Market tax credits and state and federal Historic Tax Credits.“

Bill Weyland, Chief  Strategy Officer of Weyland Ventures who founded the firm as City Properties Group, initiated the firm’s efforts to bring The Henry Clay Building back to life. “I am so glad that we were able to secure the necessary financing to save such a valuable historic property,“ Weyland said. “It wasn’t easy, but as we mark the 10th anniversary  of The Henry Clay’s debut, our company realizes a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the building and surrounding area thrive.“

Built as an Elks Club in the roaring 1920s, The Henry Clay also operated as a hotel by the same name then eventually was sold the the YWCA of Louisville. (The YWCA’s successor organization is The Center for Women and Families.) Several efforts to redevelop the YWCA building had fallen through by the time Weyland stepped up with a purchase offer in 2004 when the building was slated to be demolished.

Above and beyond The Henry Clay’s success as a mixed-use development is its significance as a catalyst that created a ripple effect of prosperity in neighboring downtown Louisville blocks — something Weyland predicted a dozen years ago when the property purchase was completed.

That achievement is something that Weyland Ventures counts as a point of pride, Gratz said.

When The Henry Clay opened in 2007, surrounding properties, particularly along nearby South Fourth Street, lacked the vibrancy that a city would like to have in the heart of its central business district. While some challenges remain in those blocks, The Henry Clay’s neighborhood is a very different place than it was a decade ago.

The Mercury Ballroom, housed in the circa 1928 Wright Taylor Building, came online in 2014 as a live concert hall and event venue. Restaurants and shops have opened their doors up and down the corridor. And in the center of this activity is another Weyland Ventures project, the Hilton Garden Inn, which opened in the fall of 2014 on the southeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets — just down the block from The Henry Clay.

“The resulting Clay Commons area is indicative of the blend of old meets new that we consider an ultimate goal of neighborhood revitalization,” Gratz said. “We have used this approach effectively in other parts of downtown Louisville. We aspire to do more — in Louisville and beyond.”

Projects in Weyland Ventures’ redevelopment portfolio also include the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum; the Glassworks District; Whiskey Row; and the Edison Center. The company’s new construction projects include the Zirmed Tower office building, The Quad, and the Hilton Garden Inn.

“We want Weyland Ventures to be known as the type of company that gathers necessary partners and assets – from private and public sources – to revitalize areas that have languished and deserve new life,” Weyland said.

To celebrate The Henry Clay’s 10th anniversary, a special event will be held there on Saturday, Oct. 28, from 7 p.m. to midnight. “The Time Traveler’s Social” is a Halloween party with a nod to the building’s earliest era. The event has a “Prohibition-style” theme, and the immersive experience includes appearances by the likes of Al Capone, Jay Gatsby and Bonnie and Clyde. Attendees are encouraged to dress in costumes of the era.

“We wanted to create an event for our city that allows guests to experience The Henry Clay’s history in an interactive and exciting way,” said Leigh Robinson, Director of Events at The Henry Clay. “This event embodies that while supporting a good cause.”

Produced by Louisville-based Michaelis event management company, “The Time Traveler’s Social” is a fundraiser for a new nonprofit organization, Vital Sites, which is focused on redeveloping abandoned or neglected properties in Louisville Metro. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to the nonprofit.

Denise Jerome, owner of Michaelis Events, described the event as “the perfect way” to celebrate Halloween as well as benefit Vital Sites, which “has been instrumental in the resurrection of downtown Louisville.”

Ticket prices start at $34.99 and top out at $899 for a V.I.P. experience that includes reserved seating, hors d’oeuvres and unlimited beverages. A couple can attend for $89.99 and receive two beverage tickets each and hors d’oeuvres. For more details about “The Time Traveler’s Social,” visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/time-travelers-social-tickets-35943818930?aff=ehomecard

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