Summit Construction LLC filed a preliminary development plan with the Louisville Metro Planning Commission earlier this year that calls for the construction of two warehouses on the Kenwood Drive-In property, owned by National Amusements Inc. According to a February story in
Business First, Summit intends to develop the Kenwood Business Center on the 31-acre property. Summit President Jeff Robinson did not respond to repeated inquires for comment on this story. However, KYTC’s Davis did acknowledge that the state’s traffic estimates take into account potential development at the Kenwood property and other industrial sites in the area. Davis says traffic capacity is the driving force behind the project, not economic development.
“We’re pushing for a five-lane option as a result of a public meeting and all the engineering decisions that have been made,” Davis says. “If we built a three-lane option, we would not have capacity 20 years from now. Unfortunately, it’s going to impact some of the businesses, whether they have to relocate off site or if they can move the building to the back of their property.”
Southside Drive is located between the airport and Iroquois Park. It serves both residential and commercial areas with local roads and subdivision intersections along the way. The idea of widening it began in 2005 when KYTC conducted a feasibility study that looked at both three-lane and five-lane expansion options. The project was set aside until last year when funding became available. KYTC held a public meeting about the Southside Drive expansion on December 13 at Epiphany United Methodist Church. Rich Gent and Nichols both say they were surprised to find out that the three-lane option, which had widespread community support, was set aside in favor of two five-lane options.
The basic plan, which is estimated to cost about $21 million, includes a five-lane section with a center turn lane, and additional turn lanes provided as needed at major intersections. In addition, the project would also look to improve the intersections at Southside Drive, Strawberry Lane and Roberts Avenue. There are two proposals for the Southside Drive and Palatka intersection – a traditional intersection or a modern roundabout.
Expanding Southside Drive by three lanes would require the acquisition of some property, but five lanes is much more invasive. It would mean that South End favorite Rubbies Barbeque & Brew, at 6905 Southside Drive, would have to relocate. Both the Southside Pet Shop and the South Louisville Body Shop would lose their parking lots, and it would cost Ken Bowl up to 80 parking spaces. In all, nearly a dozen businesses, two churches and a school along Southside would be impacted by the widening. Many people think this would change the character of the community for the worse.