Monday Business Briefing: Are Old Louisville ‘obstructionists’ preventing neighborhood development?

Welcome to the Nov. 3 Monday Business Briefing.

This is your private business intelligence briefing, with Insider Louisville staff and contributors vetting tips collected during the past few days, hours and minutes before we post.

We’re kicking off MBB with a bit of a buzzkill this week, but don’t blame us — we’re just the messenger…

The property in question at Third St

The beer will not flow at this Old Louisville property

Old Lou residents fight beer garden: ‘Unfortunately, that’s how our neighborhood is’

We were psyched at IL Headquarters upon learning Metro Planning and Zoning was slated to hear a proposal for a beer garden at the corner of Third and Hill streets. The building, which has a large canopy covering some of the property, has been sitting empty at 1484 S. Third St. since the Root Cellar closed its operation there in June.

Old Louisville resident Scott Risinger, who owns Amici Italian Café on Ormsby Avenue and has operated several other restaurants over the years, including Third Avenue Cafe, wanted to open a beer garden there that would specialize in local craft beers and also double as a food truck hub. The canopy would be a perfect shelter for picnic tables, farmers markets, and other community events, he believed.

A Metro Planning and Zoning hearing was scheduled for last Thursday to determine whether a beer garden was an acceptable use under the “Corner Commercial” designation of the property, but Risinger called it off just days before, pulling the plug on the project after a few neighbors and a nearby owner of an apartment building raised concerns about noise and parking.

“I just love that corner and thought it could be a really cool place,” says Risinger. “I wanted to utilize a corner that’s not being used, and then the neighbors fought it. I just got to where I didn’t need the stress.”

Risinger, who is leasing the space and had already started building a bar, is disappointed but not surprised. “Unfortunately, that’s how our neighborhood is. We’re trying to make changes but keep running into a few obstructionists. It gets old. That’s why we can’t advance. That’s why U of L is going south — they’re not coming our way.”

In Risinger’s initial description to the Planning Commission, he envisioned a business that “takes a once dead corner and property and it becomes an income producer that will bring amenities to my neighborhood.” He continued to describe his concept:

“For a consumer that enjoys local craft beer, it will be a place you can come without leaving the neighborhood, sit under a huge covered beer garden, enjoying a street scene while snacking on local food products. In the garage area will be a beer-only bar with a few tables. The outdoor area, ‘The Beer Garden,’ will consist of picnic tables for seating and areas for gathering. We will sell draft beer to consume on property and to-go in growlers. … We will have areas for food trucks to sell their products on our property under the canopy so there will be no weather issues. … We also will be selling deli sandwiches, pretzels, beer cheese, hot dogs, brats, etc., that we will make in our restaurant 2 blocks away.”

According to a planning commission staff report, the majority of emails received from neighbors were supportive of the project, though some raised concerns over the potential for noise and to-go beer sales.

In this case, it appears a vocal minority won the day.

Hopefully a new plan will materialize soon.