The old bluegrass museum still empty | News

In June 2018, the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum closed in the RiverPark Center complex and began moving to its new $15.4 million home at Second and Frederica streets.

Today, nearly four years later, the 30,000 square foot building that housed the museum for more than 25 years is still as empty as it was the day the museum moved.

There is no longer a sign on the building announcing that it is for rent.

“The contract with the real estate agent has expired,” assistant city manager Lelan Hancock said Tuesday. “We’re still trying to figure out what to do next.”

The building – actually two buildings erected in 1873 and 1887, respectively – sits on one of the busiest intersections downtown.

“It’s a fabulous place,” Hancock said. “Several people have visited it. It has a ton of visibility, and it’s a prime location. But for some reason, maybe COVID and changing habits, no one has made a decision at this topic.

Hopes were high in 2017, with the museum moving in a few months.

That year, the RiverPark put out a space RFP and received seven or eight responses.

Representatives of four or five of them made site visits.

Ideas then included a pub-brewery, offices and a boutique hotel.


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There is parking across the street, which RiverPark officials said made the corner buildings even more valuable than they were a few years earlier.

In November 2018, a month after the new Hall of Fame opened, the city decided to pay RiverPark Center $195,000 to renovate the building.

A year later, the Owensboro City Commission decided to give the RiverPark Center more leeway to find a tenant.

The lease with the city, owner of the building, stipulated that the tenants were limited to being involved in the civic or performing arts.

But that was changed to say new tenants only had to get city approval and meet property zoning requirements.

Around this time, Mayor Tom Watson outlined what he called a comprehensive downtown placement strategy that could move the Owensboro Museum of Science and History from its home at the old SW Anderson building diagonally across Second Street in former bluegrass museum space.

But that never happened either.

And high-end downtown real estate is always looking for a new tenant.

About Carlos V. Mitchell

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