Kevin Cogan slashes towers, drastically downsizes height of One Park development

April 24, 2019

This article by Marty Finley originally appeared in Louisville Business First.

Kevin Cogan’s Jefferson Development Group softened its hardline stance on the height of a planned 34-story high-rise at Lexington Road and Grinstead Drive.

The Louisville developer on Tuesday night presented a drastically downsized plan to a mixed crowd of supporters and opponents. The new plan eliminates two of the three proposed towers and trims the remaining tower to 18 stories.

Most of the development would stand no taller than 11 stories, the new plans show.

Louisville land use attorney Bill Bardenwerper, who has been working on the project with Cogan for three years, said the latest plan calls for, 421 apartments and/or condominiums, a luxury-branded hotel with 193 rooms and a little more than 49,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Bardenwerper said the hotel could potentially be replaced by tens of thousands of square feet of office space if Cogan is not able to secure the type of luxury hotel flag he wants and the market dictates office is a better fit. The new plan also calls for 1.202 parking spaces in an interior parking garage, which is a reduction of 586 parking spaces.

Jefferson Development Group filed its formal application for One Park with Louisville Metro Government last year after hosting nearly a dozen neighborhood meetings, known as design charrettes, at which they took hours of feedback from nearby residents. Many of the residents in attendance have spoken out adamantly against One Park’s construction because of its height and density and its feared impact on traffic at an already troublesome intersection at Lexington Road and Grinstead Drive.

The previous plans filed last year called for as many as 581 apartments and condos, a hotel with 299 rooms, more than 60,000 square feet of office space and about 41,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, including potential grocery and convention space. These uses would have been contained in several buildings connected at one base.

Under the old plan, total costs for One Park were between $450 million and $500 million, but Cogan told me after Tuesday’s meeting that he hopes to now be in the $275 million range. He said the sizable height revision was a result of his company listening to the “consistent whispers” and sometimes loud voices calling for a reduction in height and density so as not to intrude on nearby Cherokee Park and Cave Hill Cemetery.

Bardenwerper shared this sentiment with the crowd, saying Cogan wants to finish the project in his lifetime and would like to see a plan approved by the city that does not end in a lawsuit and a lengthy legal appeal. Cogan did not speak during the meeting.

“This is what we’ve got to do to get this building built and occupied,” Bardenwerper said. “… It’s just an easier project because it will have a lot more support.”

The height reduction was met with a generally positive response, but there were a number of nearby residents who said the plan remains problematic, expressing concerns about potential environmental and safety impacts.

But the main sticking point is One Park’s impact on traffic, with many neighbors voicing skepticism about Cogan’s ability to create a plan that does not create gridlock during peak driving hours at the intersection of Lexington Road, Grinstead Drive and Etley Avenue. While there will be multiple entrances to One Park, Bardenwerper said the principal exit point will be off Etley Avenue as it typically has less traffic than the other two roads.

He also told the crowd that they are estimating a morning peak hour traffic reduction of 25 percent from the previous design plan and an evening peak hour reduction of 23 percent.

Cogan and his firm have tweaked the amount of office and retail space as well as the number of apartments and hotel rooms several times over the years, but they said last year they had no intention on budging on the height.

They also have billed One Park’s approval and construction as a litmus test for Louisville’s willingness to take the next step in business development. Cogan told Business First in October that he believes the mixed-use complex could make Louisville more attractive to young workers and large companies.

After the plan was filed last year, Cogan revealed some major investors in the project, including former NBA star and Louisville business magnate Junior Bridgeman and prominent local physician Dr. Mushtaque Juneja.

Cogan said he’s had discussions with Bridgeman about Louisville’s growth in the last decade and the need to become more aggressive in its recruitment approach by looking at the long game in a more collective manner. Cogan said Tuesday that Bridgeman supports the revisions.

Meanwhile, some who still oppose the plan encouraged unity Tuesday night, calling for neighbors to put their concerns in writing to Louisville Metro Government in hopes of making a difference.

Bardenwerper did not try to discourage this type of public engagement: “The process is one of continuing input until a decision is made.”