One of the great development mysteries in Louisville is how Bardstown Road through the Highlands hasn’t developed with larger mixed-use buildings and hotels along Louisville’s most walkable corridor. The lack of modern infill development on an urban scale has been especially obvious at several key locations where the street’s urban fabric begins to fray—beginning at Mid City Mall and moving north through fast food row. But that might be changing with a proposed boutique hotel in the Cherokee Triangle stretch of Bardstown.
According to a report by Rachel Aretakis in Business First, local CPA Glenn Barber hopes to build a $10 million, 52-room boutique hotel called Hotel Louie. His concept is just in its infancy, but calls for a four-story hotel with a rooftop restaurant and bar and two to four meeting rooms. Rates will range from $199–$329 per night.
The site, between Edgeland and Midland avenues, is not a surface level parking lot like is prevalent to the north. Barber is a co-owner of three parcels—1361 to 1369 Bardstown Road—covering about half an acre. Three existing houses harken back to Bardstown Road’s early days as a toll road and residential street lined with tidy, mostly wooden houses of varying scales. One of the houses has a one-story, commercial addition in front, as is a common sight along Bardstown today. Those century-old houses would require demolition, which is likely to rankle some preservationists in the area.
Barber told Aretakis he owns a third stake in the $1.15 million holding and would buy the remaining interest when financing comes through. He declined to identify his business partners.
Louisville’s Joseph & Joseph Architects prepared the concept design, which shows an eclectic mix of colored glass and balconies along the facade. At four stories with a setback fifth to access the rooftop, the building certainly wouldn’t be overbearing along Bardstown. The initial rendering shows the building at night and without context, keeping some details intentionally vague. We’ll be watching how the project addresses the street and handles parking as it moves along.
Barber has been studying the idea for the past two years, and believes he can take advantage of changes in federal regulations that were updated in June and increase the amount of investment that can be crowdfunded from $5 million to $50 million. He is currently looking for investors and beginning the regulatory process with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). For more on how that process works, head over to the Business First article.
The notion of a hotel in the Highlands seems like an overdue one. Louisville has few hotels outside of Downtown, the fairgrounds, and the far-flung suburbs, leaving urban residents and their visitors in the lurch when looking for a walkable place to stay outside the Central Business District. Barber recognized this himself, citing a lack of places for relatives to stay when they visit as one impetus for the project. He also expects weekday business travellers seeking a hotel near nightlife outside of Downtown and local leisure guests looking for weekend getaways as the primary clientele.
According to the Hotel Louie website:
It will be the only hotel servicing this densely populated and affluent area. Hotel Louie will focus on delivering exceptional service and a luxurious room experience. Within walking distance of the hotel, guests will find restaurants, bars, retail shopping, rental cars, grocery stores and churches. Hotel Louie’s competitive advantages will be location, enhanced room design and superior technology. The hotel will attract both business travelers and tourists. The management team consists of a seasoned entrepreneur and two experienced hoteliers; a current hotel general manager and a current sales representative with a broad range of experience.
Hotel Louie reminds me of a neighborhood hotel built in St. Louis’ Delmar Loop neighborhood years ago while I was living there. Developed by a local entrepreneur who previously built a concert hall, bowling alley, and several bars along the street, the Moonrise Hotel is a quirky addition to the already active area. While much larger with 125 rooms and 8 floors, the precedent of a “weird” boutique hotel in a thriving urban neighborhood shows that Hotel Louie could do well in the Highlands.