Neighbors hopeful for Colonial Gardens redevelopment

Updated: Jan. 20, 2017 at 7:16 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After years of looking at one big eyesore, it's news that has neighbors in southwest Louisville keeping their fingers crossed.

A $5 million investment, promises to revamp the historic Colonial Gardens property.

"I was hoping years ago, somebody would do something with it," neighbor Dennis Luckett of the old Colonial Gardens property on Newcut and Kenwood said.

Even though a new sign on the property reads, "Construction in Summer 2017", Luckett told us he'll believe it when he sees it. It's easy for neighbors like Luckett to be skeptical. He's lived by the property for 39 years.

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"To me this is the most important intersection in the south end," Luckett said.

Investors agreed over the years because it's right across from the beautiful Iroquois Park, but those investors were stopped cold because of the property's landmark status. The property has been many things: The site of Louisville's first zoo, it garnered big crowds over the years with beer gardens and nightclubs and in the 1950s, both Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley performed at a restaurant there.

"I used to go there when I was a young man," Luckett said.

Neighbors are hoping to go back again, if and when it looks like the new renderings posted on the property with three to four restaurant concepts.

"It would really be nice if it looks that way," Luckett said.

The developer Underhill Associates has stepped up to take it on. It finally happened after the Metro Council deemed the dilapidated property no longer qualified for landmark status. A decision led in part by Metro Council President David Yates, a Holy Cross grad.

"I watched it hurt the neighborhood because you have an abandoned building right there in the corner," Yates said. "And part of our job at Metro government is to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood."

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The foundation will be close to the street and the developer will try to preserve the historic look of the property which is fitting as Yates says most people in south Louisville have a Colonial Gardens story.

"Seeing a piece of history pointed out by my father and grandfather and knowing it meant something to my community and fighting very hard to make sure it's something again, that's my story," Yates said.

As far as stories and memories are concerned, Yates says there's talk of a garden on the property with a memory wall where people could purchase bricks with their names on them.  Yates says he worked hand in hand with Metro Council members Dan Johnson, Marianne Butler, Vicki Aubrey Welch and Rick Blackwell on the redevelopment.
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