Last year, Speed Art Museum officials announced that construction work related to the three-year, $50 million renovation/expansion of the 86-year-old museum would be so disruptive, they would be forced to close the facility to the public until September 2015.

Now, those officials apparently are  relocating to office space in NuLu for the duration of the project.

Yesterday, sources told us the Speed was leasing a building at 822 E. Market St., just east of Decca restaurant.

Construction crews on site said they were preparing interior demolition work on the approximately 25,000-square-foot, 2-story building on the way to finishing office space.

Louisville architect Jeff Rawlins of Architectural Aritisans is overseeing the project, according to workers on the site.

The building is one of 10 –  800 E. Market through 822 E. Market – bought from Wayside Christian Mission in 2009 by a group of investors led by Gill Holland and Augusta Brown Holland.

Steven Bowling, the Speed’s new director of Marketing and Communications, confirmed the plans, adding that if museum officials can finalize a lease, the museum board will be informed tomorrow.

The Speed Museum has about 85 employees after a 2012 reorganization due to the extended closure.

Bowling emphasized the building will be used only for offices, and that none of the Speed collection would be transferred to the NuLu building. “The collection requires precise temperatures and humidity, so it will remain where it is,” he said.

Speed Museum officials under then-Executive Director Charles Venable  announced the radical transformation in April, 2011.

Last August, Venable announced he was leaving to become CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, but that the Speed project was nearly fully funded and would go forward.

The project calls for adding 50,000 square feet of gallery space in two new additions designed by Los Angeles-based wHY Architecture.

Plan details include:

  • Phase I includes a 53,000-square-foot north building. The transparent building will open into the section of the museum that was built in 1985. Phase I also includes creating an exterior plaza and art park. The current entrance road will be turned into green space, with a new entrance into the existing parking garage. Phase I is scheduled to begin this spring, with completion in 2015.
  • Phase II includes a renovation of the existing facility as well as the reshaping of the grounds.
  • Phase III includes building a new 5,000-square-foot building on the south side of the museum.
  • Highlights of the plan include water features fed by the complex’s rainwater drainage system, an improved museum gift shop, a cafe and restaurant. The plan also calls for better behind-the-scenes facilities for art storage and working area.

More as we know more.