Ohio-based Edwards Cos. has a more concrete idea of what its proposed $50 million mixed-use complex at Baxter Avenue and Broadway will look like.

Insider Louisville broke the news that Edwards Cos. was buying up property at the popular intersection. The company is the same one building apartments in the former Mercy Academy building.

Representatives with the apartment development and management company presented renderings of a proposed 250- to 260-unit apartment complex to more than 40 area residents last night. The project will include about 35 properties encompassed by Baxter Avenue, Broadway, Rogers Street and Rubel Avenue.

To keep with the character of the neighborhood, the buildings will vary between four stories and five stories, and they won’t look homogenous, said Ryan Szymanski, president of Edwards Communities Development Co., an Edwards Cos. subsidiary.

“We feel we achieve that with different types of architecture, different types of materials,” Szymanski said, adding their projects never rise about five stories because the company builds using wood framing rather than steel and concrete.

Every floor above ground level will be apartments ranging from 400 square feet to 1,400 square feet and with an expected rent range of about $850 to $1,600 a month.

The first floor will include retail along Baxter Avenue and partially down Broadway. Edward Cos. would like to see a grocery store as the first floor anchor tenant, Szymanski said, but they have not spoken to any grocers about it.

“That’s purely wishful thinking,” he said.

Szymanski noted the company considered residents’ feedback and decided to make most of the first floor along Broadway apartments to keep with the residential feel of that street.

After hearing resident feedback, Edwards Cos. also plans to keep five of the homes along Broadway that the company had originally plan to demolish to help “keep the rhythm of the street,” Szymanski said. Company leaders have not determined what they will do with the homes, located at 1203-1211 E. Broadway, after they renovate them.

Amenities at the complex include a pool, a fitness center, a clubhouse, covered bike parking, outdoor balconies for a majority of the units and a parking garage.

Attorney Bill Bardenwerper, who is representing Edwards Cos., emphasized the need for a parking garage to keep the complex’s residents from taking valuable street parking.

“Finding parking is tough, and we realize our people can’t be parking on the streets,” Bardenwerper said.

He and Szymanski also emphasized that the parking garage, which will either be four or five stories tall, will be hidden from view by the apartment buildings that will surround it.

“You won’t even know that parking garage is there,” Szymanski said.

Residents and retail customers will access the garage via entrances off Broadway and Baxter. Edwards Cos. also is talking to nearby businesses, including the nonprofit Gilda’s Club Louisville, about including parking spaces for them as well.

Bardenwerper noted that surface parking lots currently cover 2.4 acres of the 3.6 acres development.

“It’s basically a parking lot,” he said. “A lot of people don’t fully recognize that.”

The project will be submitted to the city on Nov. 23 at the earliest, . The company will first look for approvals from the city to ensure the project fits into the land development plan for the Baxter Avenue-Bardstown Road stretch.

He added they aren’t sure what, if any, zoning changes the project will require because different portions of the 3.6-acre property are zoned office-residential, multi-family residential and commercial. Bardenwerper said they will figure out the zoning requirements as the project plans become more firm.

Edwards Cos. would like to break ground in late summer or early fall 2016, meaning the development could open in late 2017 or early 2018.

Feedback from residents at last night’s meeting was mostly positive, with only one person overtly against the project.

“This is the antithesis of everything we’ve worked for,” said resident Debra Richards Harlan. “This does not feel unique to me. This does not feel like Louisville.”

Harlan said she didn’t want a complex to “self-contain millennials” with a spa and pool in the Highlands area. (Editor’s note: A spa is not part of the proposed plan.)

John Wood, vice president of capital markets at Edwards Cos., called out Harlan, saying he did not appreciate her using the word millennial in a derogatory way. The company is not building the complex for “rich kids,” he said.

“I’ve never been so offended for someone to say, ‘You are coming in and ruining my town,'” Wood added.

Realtor J. Kyle Skaggs said the complex will help feed his business and the surrounding housing market. Oftentimes, he said, young professionals will move into a new apartment complex while searching for the right home in the neighborhood they want to live in.

“They are willing to come here and rent until they find a house,” Skaggs said.

Skaggs told Insider he was glad to hear support for the project at last night’s meeting after a different group of residents were mostly negative at the previous meeting.

Jerry Brown, who rents out a home in the area, received applause from attendees last night after speaking in favor of the project.

“There is no better spot in the city of Louisville to build this than right here,” Brown said. “It seems to me something we ought to be supporting and fine tuning the details.”

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]