Cincinnati-based Capital Investment Group has acquiesced to the wishes of some prominent downtown development stakeholders by adding retail to its $47 million apartment project along South Fourth Street.
Just more than two weeks ago, nearby property owners and small-business owners praised the overall design of the seven-story mixed-use building but bemoaned the lack of retail along South Fourth, noting that forces within the city have worked hard to create a retail corridor south of Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
Among the speakers were Louisvillians Bill Weyland, founder of Weyland Ventures; Lee Weyland, operations manager at Weyland Ventures; and Rebecca Matheny, executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership.
At the time, Capital Investment Group owner David Bastos said adding retail was too expensive and wouldn’t work since most of the returns from such developments comes from the apartments. Based on new documents filed with the city, however, it appears he has had a change of heart, although he could not immediately be reached for comment.
Ahead of a Sept. 14 meeting regarding the development, Capital Investment Group altered its design to include an additional 3,750 square feet of retail space, which will be split into two to four storefronts depending on what type of business leases it. The project already featured retail and restaurant space starting at the corner of South Fourth and Chestnut streets and continuing down Chestnut.
Back in August, Bastos said more retail along South Fourth Street could work if the right incentives were there. Capital Investment Group is in negotiations with the city’s economic development arm Louisville Forward regarding a possible $3.5 million tax break for the project. Insider Louisville has reached out to Louisville Forward, but it currently is unclear whether further incentives were offered.
The change will eliminate four residential units from the development for a total of 234 apartments. The new plans also call for one of the apartments along South Fourth Street to become a live/work space.
“We are really excited to see how this works. It is definitely a product that has been missing downtown,” Matheny said about the live/work unit. “I think that the developer was very responsive and very much wanting to make the project work for Louisville and for them. We have been very happy to work with them.”
The current vacant retail space along South Fourth Street isn’t right for today’s stores because the buildings are too deep, she said. The small storefronts shown in Capital Investment Group’s latest plans are “exactly what we believe the market wants.”
The Louisville Downtown Partnership, which works on economic development in the Central Business District, has offered to help Capital Investment Group find suitable tenants for the new retail fronts, she added.
“South Fourth Street has historically been a retail stretch of downtown, and I think that is important to continue that into the future,” said developer Lee Weyland. “It’s very encouraging that they are willing to add this in. …Projects like this, you have to get the details right.”
However, he was hesitant to entirely approve of the project, adding, “It would still be good to see more what the storefronts will look like and how they will engage the street.”
Weyland said he’d like to see the space filled with an art gallery, coffee shop, dry cleaner or clothing store — something that fills a need for downtown residents and business guests staying downtown.
Weyland Ventures has been involved in the development of downtown Louisville since the company began more than 20 years ago.
“We understand as well as anybody the challenges that come along with retail,” Weyland said. “The retailers will come when the residents are here so you have to have the discipline and the patience to support it.”