The University of Louisville is exploring the possibility of building an arts and culture center on Main Street at the former proposed Museum Plaza site. Developers announced last summer that they would not build the 62-story structure that was to have housed an art museum and some UofL programs.

The university recently signed a one-year option with the city on the property at 615-621 W. Main St. It has asked the city to hold onto the property while it works with faculty, staff and leaders in the arts and culture community to develop ideas for collaboration in a downtown venture, said University Provost Shirley Willihnganz.

The University of Louisville Foundation has signed a contract with former Louisville Fund for the Arts Director Allan Cowen to lead the discussions, she said.

UofL had expected to develop a greater downtown presence by moving its Master of Fine Arts program, a College of Business program and perhaps other programs into Museum Plaza. When that no longer was possible, UofL began to look at art and culture as an economic driver in Louisville, and to ask if “we could somehow drive the discussions and be part of” a more focused effort, perhaps in a new building, Willihnganz said.

The provost said she could envision a place where visitors could walk in and watch UofL art students or faculty at work, similar to the space at UofL’s Cressman Center at 100 E. Main St.

The new building also might include office space for local arts groups or a business education program aimed at running arts organizations, Willihnganz said, noting that those ideas are her own and may not be practical or affordable. “That’s why we’ve hired Allan (Cowen), to help figure out what we might do.”