Here's the first look inside the Omni Louisville Hotel (PHOTOS)


The 30-story Omni Louisville Hotel has reached 18 stories, and construction is moving at such a rollicking pace that a new floor is now being added every six days.

If that pace is maintained, the final 12 floors of the Omni could be built out in fewer than three months, and officials have said it may top out by the middle of the year.

That was one nugget of information about the project shared Thursday morning during the first hard-hat tour inside the hulking Omni, which now dominates the site bordered by Second, Third and Liberty streets and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

The 1.2 million-square-foot Omni Louisville, with an estimated cost of about $320 million, will have 612 hotel rooms and 225 luxury apartments. The complex will have two pools — one on the third floor for the hotel and another o the 15th floor for apartment residents — and a grand ballroom.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, local media and other elected and city officials took the tour across parts of the first four floors of the Omni, including a full walk-through of the first floor — where many of the restaurant and bar amenities will be located — and the fourth floor, which gives the public its first glimpse at a typical hotel floor.

About 300 workers are now on site each day, including concrete, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, HVAC, drywall framing and hanging, insulation and glass workers and masons.

Interior finishes are now being completed on guest rooms from the fourth to the eighth floors, and pre-cast concrete panels covers much of the structure’s exterior.

Eamon O’Brien, director of sales and marketing for the Omni, said he expects to hit 60,000 pre-booked room nights for the Omni by the end of March. The majority of room nights are booked from 2018 to 2021, he said, and the farthest convention booked for the hotel is in 2024.

During the tour, O’Brien said Omni officials already are hiring for permanent positions and that many of those jobs will be filled later this year. Hotel officials plan to hold a major job fair toward the end of 2017.

He said sales and leasing positions will be filled first for both the hotel and the apartments. Floors four through 15 will be set aside for the hotel rooms, and floors 16 through 30 will house the apartments.

Those positions will be followed by a search for chefs and other service-related positions for many of the hotel amenities.

Those amenities will include a speakeasy with bowling lanes, multiple restaurants, a library-themed bar, the urban Falls City Market, a coffee shop and wine store, a bourbon store and a Heine Brothers Coffee location.

The restaurants include a three-meal concept offering new Louisville-inspired American cuisine; Bob’s Steak & Chophouse, an upscale dinner-only steakhouse; and Iron Quarter, which will serve pizza and craft beer.

Inside, the Omni now is decked out in concrete and steel, and the rooms and amenities are in such early stages that you can only visualize the final product.

But when it opens, O’Brien said, the Omni will be decked out in cast-iron and bourbon barrel accents as a nod to Louisville, and he reiterated that Falls City Market will have fresh food products, much of which will be Kentucky Proud products. The store also will have kiosks within offering high-end products and possibly a food truck-style hot food concept.

O’Brien said most of the first-floor amenities will have access from the street.

Renderings and rental rates for the apartments are expected to be released later this year.

During a news conference before the tour, Karen Williams, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the last game-changing hotel that opened downtown was the Louisville Marriott Downtown in 2005, which sent occupancy rates and average nightly rental rates soaring. She expects an even bigger splash from the Omni.

Fischer said Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts has assured him that the Omni will be unlike anything Louisville has ever seen and will create a wow factor for first-time visitors.

O’Brien said the goal is to create a first-class hotel and amenity center that attracts local and out-of-town visitors.

“This is a hotel for the entire community,” he said.

The Omni is scheduled to open by spring 2018. To see inside, check out photographer William DeShazer’s slideshow above.

Marty Finley covers economic development, commercial and residential real estate, government and sports business.

In Construction: Louisville’s Omni Hotel now airborne as columns rise into sky

It’s been well over a month since we checked in with construction at the Omni Louisville Hotel in Downtown Louisville, and in that time the 30-story tower has risen off the ground. These things go fast when there’s minimal ground or subterranean work like an underground parking garage. So expect some dramatic concrete work to quickly rise up this summer.

The construction site as of last Thursday was distinctly vertical, resembling a sort of concrete hair growing upward from the former Water Company Block bound by Second Street, Liberty Street, Third Street, and Muhammad Ali Boulevard. Many columns will hold up the second floor ballroom space, which will have distinctly fewer columns. To bridge the enormous ballroom spaces and support the roof, a large steel structure will eventually be installed. Meanwhile, the L-shaped tower will continue to rise around the ballrooms.

(Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Omni Louisville

(Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

The more than $300 million Omni Louisville Hotel includes 600 hotel rooms, 225 apartments, two convention ballrooms, and a mix of retail that includes a coffee shop, speakeasy with a bowling alley, restaurants, and an urban market. An enormous above ground parking garage will also be built on the site of the old Water Company Headquarters on Third Street, but so far its construction has been slower to start. (You can check out all the apartment buildings comprising Louisville’s current urban apartment boom here.)

The structure was designed by the hospitality division of Texas-based HKS Architects and interiors are the work of Dallas’ waldrop + nichols studio. Birmingham, Ala.–based Brasfield & Gorrie is serving as the project’s general contractor. Check out the latest interior and exterior renderings of the project from our coverage of the project’s ceremonial groundbreaking on January 29.


A newsletter from Omni sent to the Courier-Journal and Business First reports that construction progress is moving along on schedule to make its spring 2018 grand opening. That newsletter described what’s clearly visible on the site: that work on the structure’s auger-cast foundation is progressing and vertical support columns are rising off the ground. Omni Project Manager Jeremy Dawkins said construction activity will pick up this month as the tower conspicuously rises into the sky.

The construction newsletter went on to note that the project will require over two million linear feet of wire and half a million feet of conduit, according to Evelyn Strange, president of Louisville-based Advanced Electrical Systems (AES).

If you see anything noteworthy at the Omni Louisville Hotel Site or anywhere else around town, drop a note in our tipline or to

With growth of 575% in two years, how is this company still under the radar?

Feb 18, 2016, 2:51pm EST

There is a chance you have never heard of this local construction firm, but it has its hands on some of the biggest projects in Louisville, including two major renovations at Churchill Downs Racetrack and the blockbuster Omni hotel project in downtown Louisville.

Louisville-based Calhoun Construction Services Inc. was formed in 2012, and its revenue grew 575 percent in two years — from $4 million in 2013 to $27 million last year.

John Hinshaw is the new president of Louisville-based Calhoun Construction Services.

Calhoun Construction Services Inc.

The company ranked No. 14 on our list of the Louisville area’s largest general contractors, with $25.8 million in work billed out of local offices in 2014.

Calhoun specializes in construction management, general contracting and trade contracting. Employment at the company has grown from two salaried employees to 25. It also employs about 100 contractors, such as carpenters, laborers, construction workers and other specialty positions.

President John Hinshaw credits Calhoun’s growth to the company’s flexibility — it specializes in all forms of commercial construction but also has expertise in construction management. And, he said, the company’s skilled workforce leads to a lot of repeat customers.

About 100 of Calhoun’s employees and contractors are based in the Louisville area, but the company is active across Kentucky, including Lexington and Owensboro, and in Tennessee, particularly the Nashville area.

As I previously mentioned, Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. (NASDAQ: CHDN) is well-acquainted with Calhoun’s work. The construction firm was the general contractor for the construction of 20 private, open-air owners suites near Churchill Downs Racetrack’s trackside Winner’s Circle last year, a roughly $4 million project

And Calhoun has returned to the track this year to lead the $18 million renovation of the Turf Club, Stakes Room and other premium seating areas — a project that is slated to be finished before the start of the Spring Meet on April 30.

Hinshaw said a lot of the company’s repeat customers are public institutions, with the company having done work for the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and Indiana University Southeast in New Albany. Currently, Calhoun is the drywall contractor for a new training facility for the UK football team, a roughly $2.5 million project,

Hinshaw said the company also has done the general contracting work on multiple Blaze Pizza locations in Louisville, Lexington and Brentwood,Tenn.

According to the company’s website, Calhoun has been a trade contractor for the Speed Art Museum renovation and expansion, is an ongoing maintenance contractor for General Electric Co.’s (NYSE: GE) Appliance Park in Louisville and was a trade contractor on a 53,808-square-foot bourbon warehouse in Shelbyville for global alcoholic beverage giant London-based Diageo PLC. (You can find a full list of the company’s projects here.)

And the company’s profile should only grow — it is working with Birmingham, Ala.-based general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie on construction management of the nearly $300 million Omni Louisville Hotel project that just broke ground in downtown Louisville.

New leadership team

In the midst of this growth, the leadership team has changed for the company.

Calhoun was founded by multiple investors in 2012 who serve as silent partners and remain active in the company, said Calhoun marketing manager Shannon Haste. She declined to identify the investors.

Kevin Harpring led the company as president until he retired last month, turning over the reins to Hinshaw, who joined Calhoun in 2013 as director of operations, where he specialized in managing projects from start to finish.

Harpring was out of the state on Thursday and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hinshaw also became a co-owner in the company in January, along with two other new co-owners, Mike Williams, Calhoun’s operations manager, and Kurt Meadors, vice president and senior estimator.

When I spoke to Hinshaw earlier this week, he confirmed the ownership change but declined to disclose any further details about the ownership structure of the company.

Hinshaw, an Indiana native, has more than 20 years of experience in the commercial construction industry and has worked on numerous projects, including hotels and apartment complexes.

“We’ve built an elite team of professionals here in our community that have the experience and ability to build almost anything,” Hinshaw said.

This article originally ran in the February 18th edition of Business First.