Bardstown Road Overlay District committee members met with representatives from The Zaremba Group, which is looking to build a CVS at the corner of Bardstown Rd. and Douglass Blvd., on the site of current properties including the Twig and Leaf diner and Farah Cleaners.
As Louisville.com first reported on March 17 , the 15,000-square-foot development would replace the current CVS location at 2410 Bardstown Rd., which currently is under lease to Kroger. Today, a public meeting was held, where local residents and business owners heard a presentation from John Wojtila, senior development manager at Zaremba, and Monica Dragan, project architect at Norr, LLC. Wojtila explained the proposed pharmacy would include about 51 parking spaces and a double drive-thru. Dragan said that the plans included a CVS prototype design different from other stores in the chain, with materials, scale and design in line with the character of the neighborhood. She also repeatedly emphasized the use of landscaping to create a pleasant look.
Cherokee Triangle resident Lynne Lyndrup expressed concern over the safety of having a curb cut off of the main road, particularly in an area where on-street parking is discouraged. “This is a pedestrian corridor,” she said. “I have a very negative feeing…it’s very dangerous.” Dragan replied that landscaping could help address this problem, but most of the committee was unconvinced.
Committee member Joe Daley said that this wasn’t the first time the Overlay District has dealt with the idea that a replacement will look just like new, but in an old way. “Things that look good in renderings don’t always look good in reality.” He mentioned the importance of having exposed windows along the corridor so pedestrians could look in, but Wojtila and Dragan could not guarantee such a design. Daley added that alleys in the largely residential Highlands are a “sacred line” and that to move the alley would be “a dicey situation….There are bigger planning issues than just fitting a CVS into [the space]. Right out of the box, [the developers] are chipping away at the guidelines.”
Lyndrup addressed the possibility of preservation of the buildings. Dave Marchal, urban design administrator for the City of Louisville, explained that buildings 65 years or older and/or in the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for preservation, but also the buildings’ “contribution to the character of the corridor” must also be taken into consideration. “What that is, that’s your view,” he says. “You’d need to consider that the Overlay District is not a preservation district. Demolition is considered hand-in-hand with what would go up, what should stay, what the replacement should be.”
Another committee member, Nick Ising, added, “I’m very hesitant. I think they all contribute to the neighborhood. If they were falling down, [what CVS proposes] would be a very good replacement.”
Dragan admitted that “from my point of view as an architect, I think [the street is] great!”
“I appreciate the attempt to keep traditional forms,” said Kendal Baker, a planning commissioner. “It’d be impossible to use these buildings for this development, but the thought of losing these buildings is impossible to imagine.”
Restaurateur George Timmering, owner of Bearno’s in the Highlands, was not as passionately opposed to the development as some of his fellow committee members. He repeatedly encouraged people to “keep an open mind. The economic development may also help the other businesses economically…It’s not as successful a commercial area as it could be.”
Although the investigation is still preliminary—despite extensive artist drawings and surveys on display—any further action would be subject to review by other public committees, such as MSD and Public Works. Marchal said it would be subject to Category 3 planning regulations. He also encouraged Wojtila and Dragan to meet with the Highlands Community Guild and neighborhood groups. “There is no application before the committee, but in the event an application is received, rest assured, notice will be made.”
And it is likely that when the word does go out, residents and business owners will return to make a show of force. Nancy Peterson, who owns Edenside Gallery, put her opinion simply. “We like it quirky here. Eclectic.”
The Overlay staff is led by David Marchal, who can be reached at 574-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Other staff are available at 574-6230.
Interested persons may take a look at http://www.louisvilleky.gov/PlanningDesign/Bardstown+Road+Overlay+District.htm  for more information on the Overlay’s guidelines, review process and establishing ordinance.
You may also enjoy: Artist's rendering of new CVS store at Bardstown Rd. and Douglass Ave. 
Photo: Eve Bohakel Lee