LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Built in the late 1800s, a rickhouse in what’s now referred to as Distillery Commons has been ordered to be demolished by Louisville Metro Government. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Nelson Distillery used the rickhouse to store and age spirits

  • It’s been abandoned since the late 1970s

  • Because of its condition, it’s been ordered to be demolished

  • Apartments and commercial space are planned to be built there


City staff toured the dilapidated building ahead of a meeting with out-of-state developers, Bamboo Equity Partners, who’ve submitted plans to build a multi-million dollar apartment and commercial building there.

An affidavit and order provided by the city details the condition of the structure. Code enforcement found severely deteriorated wooden frames in the building and that most of the roof has collapsed. The document also mentions failing brick walls along the street and sidewalk, making it an imminent danger. 


In a report to Louisville Metro’s Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission, it states the building has been abandoned since the late 70s and was most recently purchased by a Louisville-based company in 2014. That same year, the building was designated as a historical landmark. Normally, this would mean the structure could not be demolished, but because of its condition, an emergency order allows it to be torn down. 

This development and the demolition are something Lisa Santos, chair of the Irish Hill Neighborhood Association, believes could have been handled differently. 

Lisa Santos is a long time Irish Hill resident and is the neighborhood association's chair (Spectrum News 1/Mason Brighton)

“We think it’s a shame that a city our size would let buildings like this go and let that be permitted,” Santos said.

Renovation efforts at the warehouse never happened. Santos believes buildings like this being bought but never renovated are an issue that needs to be addressed.

“Our community is willing to save older buildings like in the city center, but out here in the neighborhoods we just, you know we don’t feel supported,” Santos said.

A resident of Irish Hill for over 30 years, Santos tells me many people had relatives who worked in the warehouse and who were are not happy to see the building go. 

“I’m sure it’s not everybody, that other people may see progress differently, but I know there is a lot of people in the neighborhood that valued it being there all this time,” Santos said.

Demolition notice attached to the Nelson Distillery Rickhouse (Spectrum News 1/Mason Brighton)

With the proposed new development moving forward, Santos would like to see some changes made to the proposed plan. She explains she’d like the commercial uses moved into a neighboring building so the nearby music venue, ‘Headliners Music Hall,’ would not be affected by new residents taking up parking spaces in the evenings. 

City officials say a company still needs to be found the handle the demolition so an exact date for when the building will come down is not yet set.

The Individual Landmarks Architectural Review Committee will meet with the Missouri-based developer Bamboo Equity Partners to discuss the proposed construction project Wednesday, Aug. 31. That meeting will be held in person at the Metro Development Center at 5:30 p.m.