A plan to transform the long-vacant, former Phillips 66 site next to U.S. Highway 36 into a large-scale mixed-use commercial development was finally approved Tuesday night, albeit not without some controversy and the addition of a dozen conditions that limit the scope of the project and increase sustainability requirements.
The general development plan for Redtail Ridge, which includes office, industrial and flexible-use buildings, was narrowly approved 4-3 by the Louisville City Council with Mayor Ashley Stolzman and Councilmen Kyle Brown and Chris Leh voting in opposition.
This was the fifth meeting over the past two months held on Redtail Ridge, which is now set to include as many as 3 million square feet of commercial space. Those meetings totalled dozens of hours and featured dozens of speakers testifying during public comment sessions, most of whom opposed the development.
Concerns, from both residents and some council members, centered around loss of open space, the overall scope of the project, economic viability, traffic congestion and environmental degradation.
“I’m really disappointed this council has not done more to push this developer,” Denver-based developer Brue Baukol Capital Partners LLC, to improve sustainability and to prove to the community that Redtail Ridge will be a positive addition to Louisville, Councilman Brown said.
Concerns were again raised Tuesday, but Brue Baukol was able to find the four supporters necessary to overcome the opposition.
“Perfection should not be the enemy of the good,” Councilwoman Deb Fahey said.
In an attempt to assuage the concerns of the opposition, 13 conditions were placed on the development plan.
Those conditions include:
- A 3 million square foot cap on development.
- An increase in gross public land dedications to 93 acres.
- No gas station on site.
- All buildings that exceed 10,000 square feet must have LEED Silver rating.
- Provide a minimum of three megawatts of solar power on site.
- All buildings feature electric vehicle charging stations, all-electric HVAC and domestic water heating systems.
Despite these conditions, some of which are the most stringent ever included in a Louisville general development plan, some city councilors were not satisfied.
“The applicant has not provided evidence that there is significant demand” for more office and industrial space.
The City Council’s decision Tuesday marks the end of a year-long approval process that has resulted in a significantly scaled down Redtail Ridge.
Initially, the company sought to turn the parcel into a 5.22 million-square-foot live-work development anchored by a new corporate campus for medical-device maker Medtronic Inc. and a roughly 1,500-home senior-living community operated by Erickson Living LLC. Additional planned components included offices, retail space and apartments.
Medtronic skipped town for a nearby site in Lafayette, and locals spoke out against the housing portion of the project, arguing that thousands of new residents would strain city resources and exacerbate traffic congestion.
“This has been the most demanding city council and planning commission” in 30 years of serving on local boards, Councilman Jeff Lipton said.