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Developer Kevin Cogan buys K.T.’s … and much more

All the reporting last month about Kevin Grangier (of Village Anchor) taking over K.T.’s Restaurant missed a big part of the story. It even missed all the Kevins involved.

A source in the real estate industry tipped us off to the fact that Kevin Cogan and his Jefferson Development Group are the money behind the transaction, and that JDG will be the new owner and leaseholder of the restaurant, purchasing the property from KTS Properties of Louisville, which includes William Musselman, John Hagan, Kyle Farnsworth and Byron Nugent.

Jefferson County Clerk’s Office records reveal the deed was transferred from KTS to Cogan’s company on Nov. 17.

But our inside source also told us K.T.’s is only one of the dominos, and that JDG now owns six parcels of land at the busy intersection — an underutilized intersection that has so much potential. Sure enough, clerk’s office records indicate JDG has gobbled up the following properties:

  • 2300 Lexington Road, KT’s restaurant: $1.6 million
  • 2294 Lexington Road, Brakeway garage: $940,000
  • 2313 Lexington Road, small structure next to Jim Porter’s: $315,000
  • 2501 Grinstead Drive, former hair salon: $377,000 (purchased in May 2013)
  • 2503 Grinstead Drive, car wash: $1.1 million
  • 2509 Grinstead Drive, former pet store: $300,000
The first property developer Cogan gobbled up
The first property bought by developer Kevin Cogan

All of the properties, with the exception of the former salon, were purchased in the last two weeks. The total investment is more than $4.6 million.

Our source says JDG’s plans, which are only speculation at this point, could be a development of dining, retail, hospitality and/or the kind of luxury high-rise residential in which JDG specializes. Think the Park Grande, the Cherokee Grande, the Willow Grande. The ambition shouts from the very names of the projects. You don’t put “grand” on the name of the building, with or without an “e,” if you don’t have some lofty expectations.

JDG has not been dabbling only in residential, either. The company developed and sold The Villages at Audubon retail center, near the airport and the Exposition Center, and is developing Claibourne Crossings, another retail center by the Gene Snyder at Old Henry Road.

Cogan also bought this vacant pet store on Gristead, just behind K.T.'s
Cogan also bought this vacant pet store on Gristead, just behind K.T.’s

But there’s something much more exciting about being close to all the action of the city. The neighborhood where K.T.’s has sat for 30 years has never been developed to what could be its full potential. It sits at the intersection of Grinstead Drive and Lexington Road, not far from the Grinstead exit off I-64. It’s kind of a gateway to the Highlands, and to Cherokee Park and its Scenic Loop. It’s close to some upscale residential neighborhoods in almost all directions, from Clifton/Crescent Hill to the Cherokee Triangle.

K.T.’s was opened in 1985, and its red brick and dark wood trim has made it a constantly inviting place, convenient for people meeting for a drink in the large bar.

Chef Peng Looi saw the potential of the neighborhood as far back as 1987, when he opened August Moon in the corrugated building on Lexington Road that became Cycler’s Café. He eventually bought the empty lot next door and built his current restaurant there.

More recently, the team behind Hammerheads in Germantown took over that Cycler’s Café spot and turned it into Game. But despite those bellwethers — in addition to Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium — the stretch on both sides of Lexington, as well as Grinstead, has had a patchy, deserted feel. In a city where new restaurants often lead the way in reviving neighborhoods (Frankfort Avenue, NuLu, Douglass Loop and St. Matthews all come to mind), this intersection would seem to cry for investment.

And maybe that’s what Kevin Cogan and JDG are planning. We put in a call to JDG, but have received no call in return. We’ll update this story as we have more information.

Sarah Kelley contributed to this report.

Steve Kaufman
Steve Kaufman has been writing professionally since the Johnson administration (Lyndon, not Andrew) on all manner of subjects, from sports to city hall to sales and marketing to running a medical practice to designing stores. His journey has taken him from Chicago to Buffalo to New York to Atlanta to Cincinnati, before landing, finally, in Louisville.