In its final meeting of 2019, the Metro Council unanimously approved zoning changes that will make it possible for the controversial mixed-use development called One Park to proceed.
The decision came after fierce public debate this year over the scale and nature of the $250 million project, whose final plans include an 18-story building with 421 apartment units, a luxury hotel with up to 250 rooms and more than 1,200 parking spaces in an indoor facility.
The One Park deal includes the stipulation that 5 percent of the multi-family units with at least one bedroom must have affordable rents, although they are not required to be low enough to be accessible to the most low-income households in Louisville.
Twenty-four council members voted to change the zoning for the site, which is between Cave Hill Cemetery and Cherokee Park, to a planned development district and to close an unnamed alley in the 3.5-acre area. Councilman Brandon Coan, who represents the district, abstained because he had previously worked with the developer of the project.
Councilman Anthony Piagentini (R-19) voiced support for One Park. At the same time, he chided opponents of this project as well as those who try to stop building of “new entertainment centers,” an apparent allusion to the planned Topgolf development that Metro Council cleared last year but which has faced legal challenges from neighboring residents.
“I am sending the message today and I hope my colleagues will join me that saying for the future, this city is open for business,” Piagentini said. “I want to say ‘welcome’ to any investor who is looking to invest in this city.”
Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted in support of the decision:
Thank you to Metro Council for voting to approve One Park. Higher density, infill projects like One Park will help our city create a more sustainable future. This project & others like it will help Louisville retain & attract more talent & continue our city’s momentum.
— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) December 13, 2019
The Council made several other key decisions Thursday night as well.
The body approved the proposed allocation of a $4 million surplus from the last fiscal year, most of which will go toward creating a $2.7 million fund to help offset the city’s growing pension bill. Just before the meeting began, Fischer announced Metro Government and the council had come to a deal to reinstate holiday garbage pickup for the rest of this fiscal year at a cost of $70,000. The idea was proposed by Councilman Brent Ackerson (D-26) at the last budget committee meeting. Holiday trash pickup in the urban services district was cut as the government sought to reduce this year’s budget by $25 million to pay for a higher-than-ever pension bill to the state.
In a split vote, with 19 Council members in favor, lawmakers overturned a decision by the Planning Commission to designate the Holy Name Catholic Church campus on South 4th Street as a landmark. Without that designation, the charity will be able to clear the historic buildings in question to build a new headquarters.
Cindi Fowler (D-14) criticized the Planning Commission for using the designation as a “tool to block developments that they may not want.”
And as the city seeks more revenue in the face of a pension bill that will continue growing by the millions in coming years, the council approved a measure to allow the Parking Authority of River City to hire out a study of where more parking meters could be placed in the city.
The consultant hired to conduct the study will need to get feedback from business owners and neighborhood groups in the areas where new meters could be installed. Also, the consultant will be required to analyze dynamic pricing, which is a process through which prices fluctuate based on demand.
Ordinance sponsor David Yates (D-25) said the study could give council members needed information regarding whether more meters could be a source of revenue.
“It’s an inconvenience to have parking meters. But right now we’re making tough choices. And we’re trying to avoid to have a tax discussion at this council level,” he said.
Last spring, the council voted down a tax proposal by the mayor, which paved the way for cuts to this year’s budget.