Renovation work at the Hilltop Theater in Clifton is just about complete and the rumors are swirling as to what restaurant tenant might take the building’s 5,000 square feet. Business First reported in early 2013 that local businessman and preservationist Mo Deljoo purchased the Frankfort Avenue building from the now-closed Jim Conti & Sons for $365,000 and planned to invest around one million dollars to bring the former theater back to its original state. Deljoo formerly renovated the Scoop Theater Building on Muhammad Ali.
Broken Sidewalk toured the building back in 2008 when it was listed for sale and found beautiful original details and plaster work hidden behind boxes and a lofted ceiling. Those details drew Deljoo to the building, Business First reported. Deljoo tapped the Louisville office of HFR Design to restore the building, including a working marquee, a new ticket booth serving as the backdrop to a reception stand, and restoring a historic ceiling in the building’s entry. A parking lot and outdoor seating were also added to the side of the building where a brick house stood many years ago, and with brush cleared from that area, the open space stands out as a missing urban tooth. Otherwise, the Hilltop is looking as good as it ever did.
Renovations have been quietly ongoing, and now appear to be in the final phases awaiting a tenant build-out. Then on December 29, Insider Louisville unleashed the latest Bobby Flay rumor, noting in its Monday Business Briefing that the star chef could be considering the space. “I’m in discussions with one party, they’re a really good fit for the space,” Deljoo told Insider. “I should have some news the beginning of January.” Flay rumors have come and gone in the past, so this one might not hold water either, but such a high-profile restaurant would undeniably be a boon for the corridor.
Until then, what would you like to see at the Hilltop?
Bobby Flay?! Pssft. Guy Fieri!!
Instead of a restaurant, I’d love to see a movie theater that resembles Electric Cinema (http://www.electriccinema.co.uk/) in London, England. It’s a single-screen theater that has plush chairs with ottomans, sofas, and even tables with small lamps. In the back is a full bar with wine, beer, espresso drinks, and even homemade cake donuts (it closes 10 minutes before the movie starts). It could also be a live music venue during off hours (this city needs a good jazz venue).
I completely agree. Some of sort of theatre showing local and indie movies that would attract citizens of all types. Something different than a bar or restaurant that has saturated the area.
I agree with you as well, Neal. I’m all for Louisville being a restaurant town, but not every vacant space needs to be a restaurant/bar. I think the Highlands, Nulu, and Frankfort Avenue areas are all missing attractions that will keep people in the area for longer than the time it takes to eat a meal or have a drink. I’d love to have enough options to keep me busy all day if I wanted to take a stroll in each area.
I wish there were good local filmmakers to make local films to show there. And I wish there were great local jazz groups to play there if it comprised that possibility. Alas, there are none/few of either. But which came first, the chicken or the egg? I’ve made short films and I’ve played in jazz groups. Love both of your comments 🙂
Parking, parking, parking.
Given 5,000 sq ft, that means they are required to have 20 parking spaces. 20 parking spaces for a movie theater would mean 80 seats in the theater – but only if there were no bar or cafe.
A club of any sort would be impossible. It would require 50 parking spaces minimum by the Land Development Code.
I don’t understand how it would be impossible to have a small club and movie theater because of parking, but okay to have a large restaurant. By that same idea, wouldn’t it need parking spaces, too? I’m not trying to argue with you; I’m sure you’re correct on the Land Development code. It just seems like some of our codes need to be rewritten to accommodate mixed-use businesses or new business ideas. And if the movie theater/jazz club is anything like the theater I linked to above, it would have a small bar and cafe in it (they serve sandwiches and small plates, as well as the homemade donuts).
You get credit for being on a transit route and another for renovating a historic structure . And you can count spaces out front. And you can ask the everwaivable planning folk for a waiver. There ought to be a waiver for pedestrian activity…..!
To answer the parking question, the owner’s building’s renovation / planning team created new off-street parking in the owner’s adjacent parcel, along with utilizing on-street, historic & TARC parking credits, to meet all local parking requirements for occupancy as a restaurant, which is currently in the developmental stages by the Owner.
I’d like to see something go in there that the entire community/neighborhood can benefit from. Not just another high-priced restaurant for the elite.
What’s the latest, anyone know? My family would love to see a single screen movie theater with a small cafe go in!