History and progress meet a compromise in South Louisville


by Chelsea Rabideau


Posted on June 12, 2013 at 11:54 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 13 at 12:01 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – In an unusual move, the Metro Council stepped in to buy the historic Colonial Gardens, protecting it from demolition, but preserving it for development. The century-old property is across from the Iroquois Amphitheatre.

The run-down building has a rich history. It’s been used as a restaurant, a bar and dance hall, even a zoo. Now, it sits empty.

“It’s just an accident waiting to happen right now,” Rick Coan who lives right up the street from the building said.

People in the neighborhood are anxious to see that change.

“They’re expecting something to happen here because it’s been empty for a long time and it looks bad,” said another neighbor Delphine Edwards. “We’re hoping maybe we can have a new restaurant there.”

Metro Councilman David Yates ran his campaign on the promise of healthy development in south Louisville.

“If we have a dilapidated building, falling apart, sitting at the corner there, it’s hard to get other people and encourage investments and retail that we’re wanting to bring out here,” he explained.

In an unprecedented move earlier in June, the Metro Council approved the purchase of Colonial Gardens for $430,000. It gives the city the chance to have more control over what becomes of the property.

“I think it’s important to have those safeguards,” Yates said, “The city’s been burned before and we want to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s dollars.”

Once the sale is finalized, they’ll start looking for developers, but, not just any developers.

“We’re looking to have a restaurant, a series of restaurants, particularly. Even a meeting space and a garden in the middle,” Yates said.

Residents we talked to say that’s what they want too.

Delphine Edwards said, “We would hate to have someone knocking it down and having a gas station for instance.”

Yates said they already have three developers interested in submitting bids. If the city can approve a bid by September, crews could break ground within eight or nine months.