Developer Kevin Cogan and the Cherokee Triangle Association (CTA) have been butting heads for seven years over Jefferson Development Group‘s proposed Willow Grande condo tower. The structure would replace the three-story circa-1965 Bordeaux Apartments on the corner of Willow Avenue and Barringer Avenue. The design has been evolving since it was first proposed in 2008, each time designed by Louisville’s Joseph & Joseph Architects.
The latest round of changes, filed late last year with the city, likely won’t appease the neighborhood group, which has been fighting the project with two pending lawsuits. The latest plan reduces the building height from 17 stories to 15 stories while keeping the number of units the same: 24 residences. JDG also upped its rendering budget this time around, with a newly released image showing the building in significantly more detail.
Among the points critics have hurled at the project is that it increases the scale on the site without increasing the density. The Bordeaux Apartments contain 22 units while the Willow Grande would include 24 units. The previous proposal stood 215 feet tall, which would have made it the second tallest building in neighboring blocks—the 1400 Willow tower is tallest with 20 floors. Across the street, the circa-1928 Dartmouth Building stands 11 stories tall. No new height figure has been released.
The Cherokee Triangle Association announced its continued dislike of the project in the Winter 2014 edition of its newsletter, noting they believe the tower is too tall and too wide for the site. According to the CTA:
We have had notable victories along the way, including the Louisville Metro Planning Commission’s 8–1 vote to preserve our historic zoning in the Cherokee Triangle Neighborhood Plan of 1989, which limits new high rise construction at that site and in our neighborhood. Even though the Metro Council voted against us, they heard us and tied an unusual string to its vote: that the developer… sit down with the residents to hammer out a compromise to be approved by the Metro Council. That never happened.
Business First spoke with Cogan this week, who said he has long wanted to build a luxury project in the neighborhood. He said units would range from $1 million to $3 million and would be marketed to “executives and affluent empty-nesters.” According to Business First:
Cogan said he realizes the issue is emotional for some detractors, but he argued Louisville must evolve and offer a range of options to residents, including new luxury housing. He said he waited patiently while the project worked its way through the appeals and planning process. Now he hopes to get a green light.
Cogan previously completed the Park Grande condos in 2006 just outside of the historic district bounds of the Cherokee Triangle. That project was criticized locally for its “stack of McMansions” style of architecture. JDG also tried to redevelop the old Aquarius Apartments on Cherokee Road into luxury residences called the Cherokee Grande. Neighborhood opposition led Cogan to abandon that concept, instead renovating the 1970s apartment complex into the Park Court. He also announced his intention late last year to develop two additional towers nearby at the corner of Lexington Road and Grinstead Drive.
The Willow Grande project will go before the Louisville Metro Planning Commission on Wednesday, February 25. That meeting is open to the public and will be held at 514 West Liberty Street, beginning at 6:30p.m. If JDG is granted the appropriate waivers and variances, construction could begin in early 2016 with a 12 to 18 month construction timeline, according to the Business First report.