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Mini Storage Will Not Go Into Historic Bardstown Road Properties, Board Rules

The owners of two historic properties on Bardstown Road will have to rethink their plans following a zoning decision late Monday. But the story of the buildings isn't over yet, and it will involve scrutiny from the government.

The Board of Zoning Adjustment failed to approve a conditional use permit from the owners of 1300 and 1306 Bardstown Road that would have allowed them to install mini storage there. The six-person board was split evenly on the vote, which led to the application's failure.

The city sold the properties at a discount in late 2016 to a developer who planned to create a taproom, brewery and offices for Sterling Beer in them. That project fell through last year, and in early 2018 the developer, John Hollenbach, sold the buildings for a $525,000 profit. He remains an investor in the new venture.

Developer Jeff Sleadd said he and his team will have to figure out how to use the buildings now. They had wanted to convert them into mostly mini storage, with a street-level retail component and an Airbnb unit. They do not have plans to tear the buildings down, he said.

"Obviously we're disappointed in the decision tonight but we respect the community and the community has spoken," Sleadd said.

At the Monday night meeting and past gatherings, dozens of community members attended and voiced opposition to the project. Their concerns included safety, traffic burdens and fit with the surrounding community.

Left unsaid at the BOZA meeting, where board members were required to judge the proposal strictly on its quality, were the complaints neighborhood residents and representatives have over the way the properties changed hands earlier this year.

Councilman Brandon Coan, who represents the Highlands, where the properties are located, was quick to criticize that sale. He said he is glad the application was denied.

He continued to call for the buildings to be developed in a way similar to what he said the Sterling Beer project would have offered the neighborhood in terms of serving the community and driving business.

Coan said lawmakers need to better understand the Louisville Sterling deal, and learn from it.

"We need to look forward at all of the city's economic development deals that involve city-owned or -controlled property, or that deal in realty, and make sure we have really clear guidelines and protections built in for citizens and taxpayers," he said.

Next up, the Metro Council's government accountability committee will look into the matter on Oct. 2.

This story has been updated.

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

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