A number of Louisville residents moaned and groaned as various views of a proposed mixed-use, high-rise development flashed on a projector screen.
“He is destroying our neighborhood,” one person exclaimed.
On Tuesday evening, developer Kevin Cogan’s development team held another meeting to update residents on the details of Cogan’s more than $200 million project at Lexington Road and Grinstead Drive. The team hosted meetings last summer and fall, and the project received a similar reception from attendees. Another meeting is schedule for tonight at 7 p.m. at Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana.
Plans features three towers sitting on top of a six-story podium building, totaling 28, 33 and 34 stories tall. The development would house 168,000 square feet of office space, a 252-room hotel, 46,000 square feet of retail, 4,000 square feet of conference space and 743 apartment and condominium units.
If the project and its zoning are approved, only uses such as coffee shops, restaurants, bike shops, pharmacies, dry cleaners, clothing stores, hotels and pet groomers would be allowed, along with residential and office space, according to Cogan’s attorney, Bill Bardenwerper. The zoning would prohibit auto sales, car repair, car washes, gas stations, drive-thru restaurants, big box uses and visible parking.
The buildings would be constructed out of manufactured limestone, glass, brick and aluminum panels. Bardenwerper said he expected plans to be filed in the near future.
Many speakers at the meeting stated that they were concerned about increased traffic from the development, noting that the Grinstead Drive and Lexington Road already are heavily trafficked.
Traffic engineer Diane Zimmerman projected that a total of 724 vehicles would enter and leave the property during the peak morning commute hour of 7:15 to 8:15 a.m.
Some attendees disputed Zimmerman’s numbers, arguing that traffic would be considerably more and questioning why the development needed a 1,687-space parking garage if the development team didn’t expect that many cars to be coming and going from the property at any one time. One resident said traffic is already “out of control.”
Resident Dan Preston, who’s an architect, defended Zimmerman stating that traffic engineering is a science and told the crowd that they can all agree that the proposed project is better looking than the currently concrete-covered property. The property houses one-story businesses, including Parkside Bikes, a coffee shop, Nu-Yale Cleaners, Le Moo steakhouse and a gas station.
However, Preston said, most residents can also agree that “34 stories is too high.” If Cogan brought down the height of the project, both the podium building and the towers, then he “could have development the neighborhood could get behind.”
The height of the project was another primary concern residents brought up again at the Tuesday meeting. If built, it would be one of the tallest buildings outside the Central Business District. Attendees said it didn’t fit the character of the neighborhood and questioned who would live there.
The condominiums won’t all be million-dollar units, Bardenwerper said, and most of the apartments will be market-rate, likely similar rates to those at the Phoenix Hill or Mercy Academy apartments, which start around the $900-a-month range.
It seems likely Cogan will ask the city for tax incentives to help fund the large-scale project as Bardenwerper noted that some of the apartments likely would be workforce or affordable housing units. Although the city doesn’t have a formal policy, Louisville Metro Council in the past couple of years has required for-profit developers to include lower-priced apartments in their developments in return for incentives.
“It’s the right thing to do, and we really have to,” Bardenwerper said. “It is not regulated right now, but it’s something we have to do when we go through a discretionary review process.”
However, not everyone who spoke was against the development. Two stated that these type of developments would help keep and attract young people to Louisville.
“This is a great location for a larger scale project because of its proximity to downtown, the interstate,” said Tyler Smith, a resident and real estate agent. “Can it be bigger? Yes. Can it be smaller? Of course.”
Bardenwerper noted that his children, like other young people, had moved away from home and that the city needed to up its game with developments such as this one to entice younger people to stay.
“This city is not going to survive because I live to be Methuselah,” he said. It needs young people.
To the detractors, Bardenwerper said that they opposed it now, but should it get built, they would start to accept it.
“I am willing to bet all of you will end up eating at the restaurants,” he said. “That is the way life is, we come around to seeing and believing.”
In an email to constituents, Councilman Brandon Coan, D-8, said he wouldn’t comment on the proposed development and would recuse himself from any council vote. The development falls in Coan’s district.
“Because I performed past legal work on this project for the developer (terminating in May 2016), however, I am recusing myself from any debate or vote of the Metro Council in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest,” Coan wrote. “This includes not attending the meetings or commenting on the proposal.”
Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9, attended last night’s meeting but declined to comment because the project would go before Metro Council for a vote.