Louisville Thoroughbred Society Undergoes “The Knife;” Work To Begin Within A Week

(A recent view of the newly proposed “Louisville Thoroughbred Society” / Rendering provided by architect Bruce Rogers)

The long awaited arrival of construction workers and heavy equipment is just around the corner. The much anticipated wait is nearly to be over, and noise of machine and man will soon replace the zoom of nearby traffic. The future — which we have been buzzing about for over a year — is about to begin.

And it is music to our ears.

This week, demolition crews will begin digging out on old, abandoned concrete pad just to the East of the historic Fetzer Building at 209 East Main Street in downtown Louisville, and will begin creating a hole where a brand, spanking new parking garage will soon be erected.

And, that garage — my friends — will become a critical component, building block and intricate part of the new and improved historic structure that will soon house the Louisville Thoroughbred Society.

“When I got the news that construction crews would be roping off the area and beginning to dig out the old concrete slab, I think my heart jumped a beat,” said Gene McLean, one of the leaders behind the new project. “We have been working on this concept for such a long time. It truly is exciting to see the project come to life with these initial steps in the construction process.”

The “Society” — which is anticipating to occupy the entire second floor of the 6-floor historic structure — will be a private membership club dedicated to providing first class accommodations and amenities to members and guests interested in, involved in, engaged in, and part of the Thoroughbred racing industry.

(A look at the proposed parking garage, which will be located East of the “Fetzer Building” and in-between the current Ice House location. Rendering provided by Bruce Rogers, architect on the project.)

Broadcasts of live Thoroughbred racing will be featured in and around the entire facility through state-of-the-art audio/video equipment. Top shelf dining and drink options are expected to be offered in a world-class bar setting, and private rooms are projected to be constructed that will allow for private parties, functions and other meetings.

The roof top of the garage is scheduled to be a major component of the “Society” and will be utilized as a beautifully designed green roof setting, and will allow customers and friends to roam in open air space and still have the ability to watch some of the world’s most renown horse racing events in vivid, high-definition and surround-sound stereo.

It will be the first “private club” of its’ kind in Jefferson County and downtown Louisville, and will cater to the fan and friend of one of the Commonwealth’s most iconic and signature industries.

(The terrace view at Crushed Ice Catering facility and the Ice House. Photo Courtesy of Crushed Ice Catering.)

In addition, a premium “Cigar Bar” is slated to be constructed on the North End of the newly constructed garage roof top, and that facility will provide a world-class humidor, and an exclusive, private area for connoisseurs of fine cigars to enjoy some of the best and cured leafs in the world.

Construction should be under way by the end of this week and the first of next week. “The Pressbox” (www.thepressboxlts.com) will be on hand to document the beginning of the construction project, and provide you with regular updates, photos, and videos of the progress. The project is expected to take between 9 and 11 months to be completed.

Obviously, with the 2019 Kentucky Derby just 8 months away, it will be a strain to get all the accommodations, renovations, top-end furnishings, and the vast array of amenities and services completely operational by that critical date in the annual racing calendar.

However, we never say never. Right?

Gene and Mike
Gene McLean and Mike Schnell announce the development of the Louisville Thoroughbred Society.

The Louisville Thoroughbred Society — which will be modeled in some ways after the Thoroughbred Club of America in Lexington — is a project headed by Gene McLean, and the team of Mike Schnell and Dave Steinbrecher.

Schnell and Steinbrecher — who own and operate construction companies and have built highly successful careers in the profession — bought, renovated, and opened the Ice House property several years ago in a major restoration project. The multipurpose facility — which was completely restored, remodeled, and redone — now provides commercial rental properties for several businesses, and apartment and condominiums, as well. In addition, the Ice House has convention space, and is the home of Crushed Ice Catering — one of the more successful food and beverage catering business in the Midwest and operated by Erica Schnell.

(A view of the Ice House from the Washington Street location. The parking garage will be constructed to the right of this building. Photo courtesy of Crushed Ice Catering.)

A couple of years ago, Schnell and Steinbrecher extended their downtown holdings by purchasing the former Fetzer Building. They duo also acquired the empty lot that is located between the current Ice House operations and the building formerly known as the “Fetzer Building.” That is the site of the newly planned, designed and soon-to-be-constructed parking garage. Once completed, the garage will fully connect the properties.

McLean, a Thoroughbred owner and breeder, owns and operates McLean Communications. For over 30 years, McLean was a top lobbyist for many major corporations, including AT&T, Houchens Industries, the Kentucky Hospital Association, the Kentucky Beer Wholesalers Association. Over that time span, he represented many other companies that specialized in road construction, construction management, health care, and other specialized fields of study.

Before that, McLean served as the Executive Vice President of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders’ Association. In addition, he was the first President of Kentucky Off-Track Betting, Inc. He has been a member of the Thoroughbred Club of America for nearly 30 years.

(The Pressbox logo. Site can be found at www.thepressboxlts.com)

Now, McLean Communications owns both McLean Lobby, LLC. and has all operational rights to “The Pressbox” — an on-line publication dedicated to covering, promoting, and touting the entire horse industry. That site can be found at www.thepressboxlts.com.

In addition, McLean developed “The Louisville Thoroughbred Society” concept, and is the and one of the three founding members of The Louisville Thoroughbred Society — along with Schnell and Steinbrecher.

The new group is now planning on hosting an “Open House” at the new facility. While the final date and time is still to be determined, the event should be scheduled soon and announced for a time this September. By reservation, people interested in either investing in the “Society” and/or becoming members will be invited to attend and get a close-up look at the new project.

If anyone is interested in learning more how to become an investor in the project, or a member and the various membership packages being planned, you can contact Gene McLean at gene@mcleanlobby.com.





The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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