Louisville-based development company Underhill Associates formally filed plans to a $5 million revitalization of the Colonial Gardens near Iroquois Park.

Underhill Associates, which is known for projects including Westport Village and Germantown Mill Lofts, plans to renovate 7,000-square-feet of existing space in the Colonial Gardens building, demolish a 1939 building addition and construct two new one-story buildings on the property.

“The two proposed sister buildings, which are slightly more modern and complementary in design, are not included in the review but contribute to the spirit of the original beer garden,” the plans state.

Underhill Associates is looking for three or four restaurants concepts to fill Colonial Gardens. They’ll share a parking lot behind the buildings.

Jeff Underhill, a principal with Underhill Associates who is leading this project, said the development company would prefer to have locally-owned, mid-priced concepts open at Colonial Gardens. Underhill Associates is in talks with potential operators now, but it’s too soon for any announcements, he said.

Underhill said he sees Colonial Gardens becoming  “a fun place to gather” and “gateway to Iroquois Park.”

Underhill Associates won’t take possession of the property until all the current tenants have left. A tire store on the property has agreed to leave in April, he said, but it is unclear if Little Caesars will leave before August when its lease expires.

A news release from the city stated that construction is slated to begin in mid- to late spring. However, Underhill said, construction won’t be able to begin until after Little Caesars vacates the property. Once it starts, construction will take about 12 to 18 months, he said.

Council member Dan Johnson (D-21) notably asked people to boycott that Little Caesars in 2014 in an effort to “drive them out” of Colonial Gardens. The pizza restaurant was inhibiting Underhill Associates from moving forward with its redevelopment plans, he said at the time.

“The restoration and reopening of Colonial Gardens is a top priority of mine, and I look forward to continuing my work with the administration to ensure this project is successful,” Johnson said in Thursday’s release. “When it opens, Colonial Gardens will not only restore a historic piece of the neighborhood, it could be the economic spark I have long advocated for in this area.”

Other Louisville leaders also praised the project.

“Redevelopment will establish Colonial Gardens as a key anchor to south Louisville and Iroquois Park once again,” Mayor Greg Fischer, said in the release.

The property became a local landmark in 2008, and the city bought it in 2013, in the hopes of spurring some type of redevelopment that would kick off the broader revitalization of the New Cut Road corridor, Insider Louisville previously reported.

“The development of the Colonial Gardens corner not only improves the quality for life for residents, it also enhances your experience when you attend a show and/or movie at the amphitheater, and will spur development all along the corridor,” Louisville Metro Councilwoman Marianne Butler (D-15), said in the release.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]