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Neighborhood Meeting Next Step In Transforming Canceled Highlands Brewery Location

Until recently, many expected Sterling Beer to redevelop two historic properties in the Highlands into a brewery and taproom. Then, the developers unexpectedly sold the buildings — purchased from the city — for a $525,000 profit. Now, the new owners have plans to convert the properties into mini storage, retail space and an Airbnb unit.

On Thursday new owners MS Bardstown Road, LLC, will hold a public meeting to get neighborhood feedback on their planned project. The meeting is a necessary step in securing a conditional use permit, which they need because 1300 and 1306 Bardstown Road aren't zoned for storage.

Eventually, the Louisville Metro Planning Commission will decide whether to grant the permit.

Kristen Millwood is the president of the Tyler Park Neighborhood Association. She said representatives for the development presented plans at the group’s last meeting. All but one board member opposed the plan.

"I, for one, am glad that someone wants to re-use it instead of raze it, but we felt that the use is grossly out of character for the area and not necessary," she said.

The sale of the properties earlier this year drew scrutiny from those who saw it as a raw deal for the public and the city. The original developers bought the properties for less than they were appraised in late 2016, when Sterling announced its plans. They later resold them for $950,000.

District 8 Councilman Brandon Coan said neighbors shouldn’t forget those dealings as they consider the project.

"The planning commission’s job is to decide these cases on their merits, but it’s the public’s job — and I certainly think it’s the Metro Council’s job — to consider the totality of the circumstances and not just blueprints on a piece of paper," he said.

Developer Jeff Sleadd of MS Bardstown Road said his company will submit a conditional use permit application regardless of the public response. However, the company is willing to consider other uses for the buildings, if an economical option arises. Sleadd said a lack of sufficient parking limits what retail would work in the buildings, so he may buy property nearby to expand options.

"We'll be able to feel the barometer of the neighborhood, beyond just the [Tyler Park Neighborhood Association] Board at that time," Sleadd said of Thursday's meeting. "I've had some conversations with Councilman Coan and any ideas that he has or anyone else has in the neighborhood for what we could put there, we're open to that."

According to current plans, a portion of the properties will be dedicated to retail space, which Sleadd said could house a breakfast and lunch restaurant. He said neighbors should like that since it would be less disruptive than a bar.

The public meeting on the conditional use permit will be at the Louisville Public Library’s Highlands Branch at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 19.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.