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A Columbus-based developer has an option to buy Phoenix Hill Tavern and several other buildings on Baxter Avenue and nearby Broadway | Photo via Google Maps

There’s a potential buyer lined up for the former Phoenix Hill Tavern and nearby properties, and preliminary plans entail a mix of market-rate apartments and retail.

Columbus-based Edwards Cos. has an option to purchase the site of Phoenix Hill Tavern — which closed in June — as well as 10 adjacent homes along East Broadway and three buildings on Baxter Avenue in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood on the edge of downtown.

Two of the other Baxter Avenue buildings currently house electronic security company Deco A/V and Roppel’s Full-Service Auto Center.

Representatives with the company’s subsidiary Edwards Communities Development Co. casually mentioned the option Tuesday night when an attendee suggested they look at the Phoenix Hill Tavern property during an unrelated community meeting with the Original Highlands Neighborhood Association.

No plans have been filed yet, but the apartment developer and management company has scheduled an Oct. 6 community meeting to talk about the Phoenix Hill project with nearby residents.

“We wanted to get the concept out there,” said Bill Bardenwerper, an attorney with Bardenwerper, Talbott & Roberts PLLC. He is representing Edwards Communities.

The project would include constructing a four-story, mixed-use building in the triangle where Baxter Avenue and Broadway meet. The first floor would include a variety of retail, while the remaining three floors would be market-rate apartments.

“Our ideal project has parking that parks our apartments and we do anything from 200 to 300 apartment units and as much retail as we can,” said John Wood, vice president of capital markets at Edwards Cos. “We’ve got a bubble plan and a vision, but until we get to the people that tell us what we can and can’t do, we don’t want to get excited.”

Just down Broadway, Edwards Communities already has proposed and filed plans for a four-story apartment building on the site of the former Mercy Academy; that particular project was the primary focus of Tuesday night’s meeting.

The hope would be to start construction on the Mercy Academy apartments next spring, while the Phoenix Hill development moves through the city approval process, Bardenwerper said.

Between the $30-million Mercy Academy apartments and the newly proposed mixed-use development, Wood said Edwards Cos. would be looking to invest more than $80 million into that area of Louisville.

While Edwards representatives are bullish on the Phoenix Hill development, they believe the project will face some obstacles.

“There’s more properties. It is a larger site. It’s a bigger project,” said Ryan Szymanski, president of Edwards Communities. “It’s higher profile. It is at a major intersection.”

Matt Blair, president of the Original Highlands Neighborhood Association, said he believes that if people give the projects serious consideration, they will support them.

Although the Edwards representatives did not explicitly say that one project is dependent on the other, Wood noted that the company is banking on being able to develop both.

“I don’t know that we would do just one project,” Wood said. “If we could only do one project, we’d do Baxter.”

Edwards Communities regularly develops multiple projects in close proximity to each other.

“We like to be competing with ourselves, and we think the well is deep enough to handle both projects,”  Szymanski said. “The more economic development you do, the more it is going to impact the other, the more people are going to want to be at your properties.”

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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]