Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear Announces Big Boost for Owensboro Riverfront

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, April 01, 2015  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian

Partnership between state and city allows Owensboro to invest $5 million for International Bluegrass Music Center

OWENSBORO, Ky. – Thanks to a state and city partnership to fund Owensboro transportation projects, the International Bluegrass Music Center project will get $5 million needed to begin construction on Owensboro’s Riverfront.

Governor Steve Beshear joined Owensboro leaders on the Riverfront to announce the innovative partnership. Owensboro had been responsible for providing city matching funds for a federal allocation supporting the Riverfront. Instead, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will invest available state matching funds for a portion of the city’s responsibility for that federal allocation. That move allows Owensboro to invest those millions in city funds in the International Bluegrass Music Center, completing the funding for $15 million project.

“This partnership is really about the most efficient use of available money for the greatest impact for the community,” said Gov. Beshear. “The state has played a big role in the Riverfront, from donating a former state office building to assisting with design and construction to supporting the resulting downtown development. Providing these matching funds continues that work, and creates the added opportunity for the city to invest in a signature museum for the region.”

“It has been an honor to work with Governor Beshear on this project,” said Owensboro mayor Ron Payne. “The International Bluegrass Music Center is a continuation of Owensboro’s renaissance. The state’s recognition and support of our commitment to making our community a destination city is another prime example of partnerships in action. We could not have experienced the success that we have without buy-in from both public and private resources. We can now make the International Bluegrass Music Center a reality.”

The International Bluegrass Music Center will be built on the site of the old state office building, which was demolished this past year as part of the Riverfront rehabilitation. The site is in the heart of the city’s waterfront park on the Ohio River, next to two new hotels and the new convention center.

Plans for the new music center include doubling the square footage of the current facility, with a 500-seat concert hall, a 2,000-seat outdoor concert area, a research library, teaching rooms, and a rooftop restaurant overlooking the river.

Construction is expected to begin on the International Bluegrass Music Center in this year, with completion targeted for 2017.

About Owensboro’s downtown development
Owensboro is on the other side of an eleven-year planning and development process that has produced more than $200 million in public and private development. The downtown streetscape and real estate has been transformed. Second Street has been rehabilitated with curb extensions, renovated historic buildings, and active ground-floor uses including retail and restaurants.

A $40 million bank stabilization project on the Ohio River designed to stop the erosion of Smothers Park and has allowed the city to recapture 2.5 acres of previously eroded parkland and expand the land into a larger, regional attraction for the tri-state areas of Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. Another $52 million in city-financed projects have added promenades, a water-jet fountain, a riverfront playground, and a host of street and sidewalk design features to invite more pedestrian traffic downtown. Finally, a public investment of $50 million was made in the Owensboro Convention Center, and private investment totaling $45 million produced two new hotels adjacent to the convention center.

The state has invested heavily in the success of the Owensboro Riverfront. Besides donating the former state office building and the land on which it stood, the state has also offered tourism development incentives to construct the hotel adjacent to the Owensboro Convention Center. Not only has the state invested in the city’s downtown renaissance, but it has also supported major infrastructure improvements in Owensboro, including work on US 60 and the widening of Southtown Boulevard.