Mayor Greg Fischer joined Metro Council members and representatives from Underhill Associates to mark the near completion of the historic Colonial Gardens redevelopment project and announce two tenants, El Taco Luchador and Union 15.
“This is the culmination of six years of effort by the city and its partners to revive a long-vacant property that once was a center of neighborhood activity,” the Mayor said. “Colonial Gardens is an example of how public and private interests can join forces to create something that will benefit residents, visitors and businesses alike, and we are excited to welcome its new tenants.”
Construction on the more than $5 million redevelopment of Colonial Gardens started in spring 2018 and is on track for completion in June with the first tenants opening in the coming months.
“We greatly appreciate the positive public-private partnership that is making this transformational project happen,” said Underhill Associates partners Jeff and Todd Underhill. “We are happy that the patient neighbors and the visitors to Iroquois Park will not have to go another summer without having Colonial Gardens as a gathering place to once again celebrate life in the South End.”
Union 15 is a pizza and tap house concept crafted by business partners Paul Blackburn and Alex Tinker, both of whom grew up in the South End. Its name is a reference to the fact that Kentucky was the 15th state to join the United States.
It will serve Chicago thin crust and hand-tossed pizza and have more than 50 beers on tap.
“We are excited to open a local establishment in the South End that we know we will be a place friends, family and everyone in between can come eat delicious fresh hot pizza, have a cold beer, and walk away with a big smile,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn and Tinker also own restaurants Citizen 7 in Norton Commons, Couvillion in Germantown and Parlour in Jeffersonville and pet daycare, grooming and boarding facility The Pet Station Country Club in the East End.
El Taco Luchador is a well-known fast-causal taqueria created and operated by Olé Hospitality Group, which owns multiple restaurant concepts in Louisville. Its partners are Chef Fernando Martinez, Christina Martinez, Yaniel Martinez and Rick Moir.
The Colonial Gardens location will be its fourth El Taco Luchador location in the city.
“Judging by the excitement in the community, we think El Taco Luchador Colonial Gardens is going to be a hit,” said Chef Martinez. “We’re proud to play a small role in bringing this storied property back to life.”
Underhill Associates hopes to announce a third tenant soon.
“After years of dilapidation, Colonial Gardens is again a place of pride for the South,” said Metro Councilman David Yates, District 25. “Its success is intrinsically tied to future development in our community. I implore my constituents and neighbors to join me in supporting the quality restaurants we have attracted to anchor this restored jewel. I will see you there!”
Construction work on Colonial Gardens included renovation of the 7,000-square-foot historic structure and the addition of three new, one-story buildings for a total of 18,000-square-foot. The tenants will share a common patio and garden area.
“Colonial Gardens has been a south Louisville staple for over a century. Its past is held dear to longtime South-enders and newcomers alike, and its future will strengthen community connection, increase economic development, and attract visitors, while still maintaining its cultural and historic significance for all of Louisville to enjoy,” said Councilwoman Nicole George, District 21.
In addition to contributing $2.4 million and the property for the project, Louisville Metro Government invested $200,000 in pedestrian safety improvements, additional parking, and a new TARC bus stop to improve safety and access to Colonial Gardens and Iroquois Park.
Underhill Associates, with financing from Republic Bank, invested $2.8 million in the redevelopment effort.