Grinstead Drive meanders off to the left toward the Highlands and Lexington Road veers right toward Downtown. (Courtesy Google)
Grinstead Drive meanders off to the left toward the Highlands and Lexington Road veers right toward Downtown. (Courtesy Google)
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There’s a small triangular block right at the halfway point between Frankfort Avenue and Bardstown Road that we’re all familiar with, but likely haven’t thought a lot about as we pass by. It’s surrounded on all sides by parks, cemeteries, and natural areas, bounded by Grinstead Drive, Lexington Road, and the tiny Etley Avenue. From an urbanism point of view, this remnant piece of city forming a flatiron-shape acute angle where the two major streets cross is a challenging one for connectivity, walkability, and sense of place.

Up until now, the site—what we’ll call Cherokee Pointe for lack of another name—has been home to a hodge podge of businesses—including a car wash, a vet, a popular restaurant, and a gas station—with more than half of its space dedicated to surface parking lots. A major cash infusion from Jefferson Development Group (JDG), however, could make this site into a node that connects Clifton, Crescent Hill, and the Highlands across so many divides.

The Cherokee Pointe site sits isolated from urban areas to the east and west. (Courtesy Bing)
The Cherokee Pointe site sits isolated from urban areas to the east and west. (Courtesy Bing / Montage by Broken Sidewalk)

Insider Louisville first reported details of the development last Thursday, noting that JDG had invested more than $4.6 million to purchase half a dozen parcels comprising the site. The Courier-Journal followed up on Friday with news that the developer is considering up to $200 million in development on the site that could bring a mix of uses and potentially two towers.

Kevin Cogan, CEO of JDG, told the C-J the project would be built in phases and would take several years. No official plans or project renderings are available yet, as the developers plan to meet with city and neighborhood officials over the next year. He did hint at ambitious plans, however, including an 18-story condo tower and an eight-plus story apartment building tied together by sidewalk-level shops and restaurants, such as a bike shop and deli. A dry cleaners currently on the site and the popular KT’s restaurant, which is in the process of being revamped by Kevin Grangier of the Village Anchor in Anchorage, will also be part of the project. Other businesses in the area include the Harvest Moon and Game restaurants and Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium.

Even with scarce details, the proposal is generating a lot of attention, all the way up to Mayor Greg Fischer’s office. “We need to see the final plan, but this could be one of our city’s most dynamic projects,” Chris Poynter, the mayor’s spokesman, told the C-J.

It would, indeed, be among the city’s most impactful projects, and we’re excited to see plans develop over the coming year. As JDG re-imagines their newly acquired parcels, though, we as a city should also be re-imagining the cityscape around the site. How can we make access to the park safer for pedestrians? How can we promote biking in an area that has already begun to see investment with bike lanes on Grinstead and the Beargrass Creek Greenway picking up at the park? Can we rework the Interstate 64 interchange with Grinstead to be safer for pedestrians? Is there an opportunity to bring in more trees to help combat Louisville’s Urban Heat Island issues? These and many more questions deserve exploring.

“Everyone’s aware that it’s been a ragtag, underutilized piece of ground,” Cogan told WAVE3. “And it is one of the gateways into our city.” Let’s make sure we make this one count.

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Branden Klayko

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

6 COMMENTS

  1. This will either be a gateway with walkability and access at a mired in bad transpiration design intersection where the former “Woods” of Poeville is landlocked (you’ll never leave unless its by car), and where a simple walk from Crescent Hill or Cherokee to Game or August Moon is a joke, and a dangerous one at that. But again 18 stories speaks more to Ego Grande than context local. Please no more Grande Grinstead or Grande Graveyard ideas! The flatiron concept is excellent (think Halsted at Fullerton in Chicago), and the bungalow could be the entrance point or sales office or or or. We risk over and over again the taller denser is better mantra that’s being poured like cheap Kool aid across this and other
    Communities who sell their identities way too cheaply. And we haven’t the growth
    Market to support it.

  2. I don’t necessarily have issues with building height myself and though I know it is good, desirable real estate, I find an 18-story condo building a little, um, lofty in economic terms. If developers do their homework and believe that sort of density is warranted and makes economic sense, I’d say go for it. (This project doesn’t have the disproportions/sightline issues of the condos fought on the other side of the park.) But I just don’t think it is warranted or makes economic sense. I too have thought the shallow corner is a great opportunity and I’d love to see it reimagined. But 18 stories? Where are all these people? And, assuming they do exist, do they really want highrise living in what amounts to an almost suburban-like setting? (Despite efforts to make this little triangle mixed use, it will always be a very little triangle with constraints to go along with it.) While I can imagine the views (away from the interstate, of course) would be spectacular and glossily-rendered on the developer’s handouts, I shudder to think about the trapped-on-a-desert-island feel I would have living on the 14th floor of a building there. And the mental and logstics obstacles (elevator, garage, car, etc) for making a milk run. That’s not to say it would be a bad PLACE to live – just that the residential density of such a large condo would swamp what the corner could provide.
    With all that said, you’re right that there are huge questions and (fun) challenges in thinking about the urban space around it and connectivity. In my mind, I-64 is a wall. Walking from here to Crescent Hill would be unpleasant and the interstate is the sole (huge) source of that unpleasantness. It wouldn’t altogether be much better on a bike, but at least you’d get under it faster. Either that interchange is vastly improved (typical, sweeping on/off ramps encouraging rapid acceleration or retaining of highway speeds are terrible for anything other than cars) or “Proximity to Frankfort Ave/Crescent Hill” should not be included in the pitch. I’ve always thought the city did a good job with the crossing from the Beargrass trail over to the park. That sort of dedication to something good and not a half-measure needs to be expanded down Lexington toward town and down Grinstead toward the Highlands. I really think that would be possible. The improvement to the interstate, though just as critical to making this site more liveable and urban, would be much more difficult.

  3. People should note that much of the property at the corner of Lexington and Grinstead is actually in the Irish Hill Neighborhood, not Cherokee. It is referred to as a gateway to the city — it is also the entrance to Irish Hill.

  4. There’s a large parcel just west of this area that is owned by, and inside the walls of, Cave Hill Cemetery, but it’s geographically separated from the rest of the cemetery by a big cliff. It seems unlikely CHC will ever make use of it, so I wonder if they could be induced to sell it and reroute the wall? This could nearly double the footprint of the developed area at this spot.

    It’s the dirt area to the left of the triangle in this shot:

    http://i.imgur.com/sb3BbYH.jpg

  5. I agree Jeremy M. This Grinstead exit is already a traffic nightmare with high density of traffic for the park, for Bardstown Road, and for residents who live there. Putting any kind of residential building that close to an exit will cause a huge safety issue for pedestrians (when they go for a walk or ride their bikes to the park when they get off work) and for traffic in the mornings at in the evenings- and I’m including the exit ramps too. People are already too impatient and irritated when they get into areas where traffic is slow moving.

    Additionally, there is not enough distance between exit ramps and businesses as it is in Louisville. First priority should be to move the traffic off the highway and never allow it to backup onto the highway- which it does at the Grinstead exit. Because when you do get through the green light at the end of the exit ramp… you slam into another light- which further ‘constipates’ the situation. Community planning requires responsibility of thought for how to ease tension and overcrowding by moving traffic to their destination at a sufficient speed, and it requires consideration for the present residents and visitors. It seems to me that JGD is all about profit… and Cogan is wrong about it being a ragtag, underutilized piece of ground. It has real businesses there that are OVERutilized….. hence some of the traffic issues. Density is a real issue with real impact- real traffic. There are so many better areas to build this complex…. namely west of Barret Ave where there’s room and a real good start on revitalization. If the Mayor’s spokesman’s idea of a dynamic project is more overpriced condominiums that price young couples and lower income people out of the city (b/c it drives the cost of living up for the area), then that’s not a good project.

  6. Coincidentally, the Jane Jacobs Walk on April 4, 2015 which will explore the Buchertown neighborhood and look “at the historical elements of the neighborhood, as well as the economic redevelopment potential,” says Metro Councilperson Tom Owen……

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