Shovels are expected to hit the ground as early as next spring on the multimillion-dollar Paristown Pointe project, according to Steve Smith, CEO of Louisville Stoneware.
Smith announced plans to create a new arts and entertainment district in Paristown Pointe more than a year ago and has been one of the individuals spearheading the efforts. The main features of the project include a new Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts performance venue, a new brewery for Goodwood Brewing Co. and an expansion of Louisville Stoneware.
As part of the project, The Café restaurant will be upgraded and add dinner service; a former auto repair shop will be renovated and turned into commercial space for a possible ice cream parlor, coffee shop or other commercial use; and Louisville Stoneware will spend $5 million renovating the vacant and historic 19th century tannery, which sits right next door to its headquarters. Louisville Stoneware will seek state historic tax credit to cover some of the cost.
Smith said he’s in talks with roughly a dozen restaurant owners who have expressed interest in opening in the first floor of the tannery, once renovated. The second through fifth floors of the tannery will be turned into commercial space, possibly for offices.
Cost estimates for the project have grown slightly. Original projections estimated the cost at $28 million, but Smith told Paristown Pointe residents in a meeting Monday that the development could cost anywhere from $28 million to $30 million. The funding will come from the companies, private investors, donors and public tax incentives.
The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts recently received a $1.5 million private matching donation to help fund its new venue. Kim Baker, the center’s president, said the arts nonprofit is organizing a fundraising effort to help it match the donation.
The new venue is expected to have 85 or more performances a year and its maximum capacity will be 2,000 people. It will serve as one of the primary performance spaces for the Louisville Orchestra and its conductor, Teddy Abrams, “so they could do more interesting and unique things,” Baker said. “I think it is going to be really cool.”
The cost projection does not include the $2.2 million that Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government has pledged to invest in infrastructure and streetscape improvements along Vine, Brent and Swan street, as well as in an alley next to Louisville Stoneware.
The city will repave the roads and install new lighting, among other improvements related to the road and sidewalks. “It will be as nice as anything we see downtown,” he said.
All the environmental testing has been completed, and the project will go before city officials later this month for final approvals. If approved, then construction will begin in the spring. The hopeful completion date is by Derby 2018, Smith said, adding that the date could be pushed into early summer 2018.
As with many developments, parking topped the list of concerns for nearby residents. Private funding will pay for the creation of 420 off-street parking spaces, most of which will be in a parking lot sandwiched between Swan Street and the south fork of Beargrass Creek, Smith said.
Smith also said that he’s met with city leaders, including outgoing Louisville Metro councilman David Tandy, D-4, and plans to meet with incoming councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith about installing signs limiting certain parking to residents only after 5 p.m. in the hopes of curbing potential negative impacts of the large-scale development.
“Nobody will be able to park in front of your house or on your lawn,” he said.
Talks are preliminary however, and council would need to approve the special permitting for parking.
The businesses will work together to cut down on potential noise as well, Smith said, which could include shutting down outdoor events, such as small festivals, at 10:30 p.m.
“There will be some noise, but we will be very sensitive to the neighborhood,” he said. “We are here to make the community and place better.”
In that vein, Smith encouraged residents to reach out if they have any problems related to the development or during the construction process.
“If anybody’s throwing trash in your yard or being a poor neighbor, please let us know,” he said.
Residents at the meeting were in general pleased with the plans, and one noted that the neighborhood already has improved after the auto repair shop and salvage yard on Swan Street was kicked out to make way for the development.
The multimillion-dollar development will help revitalize a neighborhood that — despite the presence of Louisville Stoneware — has become downtrodden. Several times in the meeting, Smith and Paristown Pointe residents mentioned troubles with crime in the neighborhood and with homeless people camping out near the railroad tracks and Beargrass Creek.
“If we don’t do something,” Smith said, “it is just going to get worse.”