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Facade, signage, traffic concerns raised about Family Dollar at gateway to NuLu and downtown

by Melissa Chipman

NuLu Business Association meeting

NuLu Business Association meeting.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the address of the Hunt Tractor property.

In the Monday Morning Business Briefing, we told you the Hunt family, who owns the triangular .9 acre Hunt Tractor property at 300 Baxter Ave., has proposed selling the property to Family Dollar stores.

“We want development. It’s an empty lot. And we want the Hunts to get good money for their property,” Gill Holland, entrepreneur and president of the NuLu Business Association, said at this morning’s meeting. But, as he said in a statement to Insider Louisville earlier this week, Holland does not feel the proposed Family Dollar is the best use for the Hunt Tractor property.

This morning’s NuLu Business Association was expected to be a little contentious, at least judging by the social media response to the proposal for a new Family Dollar at this “gateway to the Highlands and NuLu,” as Gordon Brown, president and CEO of the Home of the Innocents, called it.

In reality, a measured and relatively short conversation occurred at the meeting.

Holland has emailed with the CEO of Family Dollar, Howard Levine, (they both went to UNC- Chapel Hill, it turns out) and has invited him to the next NBA meeting.

He said, at least according to this conversation, that Family Dollar could be interested in building a green building. Maybe even LEED certified. Maybe have murals as signage like the restaurants Rye and Decca.

“They want to do the neighborly thing,” Holland says.

Rebecca Matheny, interim director of the Louisville Downtown Development Corporation, said, “This is a terrible use for the property. A single-story building is sub-optimal.” She also mentioned that the plans included a blank brick wall facing Baxter Avenue. “We’d like to see a different use for this property.”

Holland agreed. “It could be an Urban Outfitters; it doesn’t matter to me.” The single-story building is one of the key objections.

Brown was very concerned about traffic, which is already high volume during rush hour. He also said that when he was developing the Home of the Innocents property, a lot of restrictions were placed on the buildings’ parking lots.

A lot of thought and effort has been put into getting residents to move to NuLu and downtown, and one of the primary complaints is the lack of grocery stores nearby. Most people who already live in the NuLu area (12,000 within 1 mile of the proposed store, according to Family Dollar) are of low or moderate income.

Gabe Sowder, owner of Taco Punk, said: “We need something down here that’s going to provide amenities for residents.” He also added if Family Dollar doesn’t move in, “How long before the CVS-Walgreens war breaks out?”

We were told the Phoenix Hill Business Association Board was split 50-50 on the issue.

The next NuLu Business Association is Jan. 8, 2014, which falls before the Family Dollar’s Board of Zoning Appeals meeting.

Holland suggested that at January’s meeting, the NBA consider crafting a “neighborhood statement” on the issue.

Also, Bob Keesaer, Urban Design administrator for the city, explained Bardstown Road and downtown Louisville have overlays, which are ordinances that control how new construction should appear. He suggested the NBA consider lobbying their councilperson, David Tandy, to propose an overlay for NuLu. A small group will be formed to consider this.

Family Dollar is a family-controlled, publicly traded discount chain based in Charlotte, N.C., with more than 7,000 stores in 45 states and the District of Columbia, with 27 locations inside of the Gene Snyder.

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