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.
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.