LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Waterfront Park officials are seeking to change how land can be used in and near the Ohio River Park, a move intended to immediately attract at least one new business.

An order presented to the Metro Council last week would authorize a range of new activities – from breweries and distilleries to art galleries and aquariums – in a zoning district of around 300 acres that includes much of the park and some adjacent properties.

The Waterfront Development Corp. requested changes to the city’s land development code in part because the agency is “actively working to lease” a building it owns at 1250 River Road, said Deborah Bilitksi, president and executive director of the agency.

“We’re just trying to increase or expand the list of permitted uses for the property that immediately surrounds the park,” she said.

Bilitski said those changes could help secure a deal for the River Road building, but she declined to elaborate. She told the Louisville Metro Planning Commission’s planning committee this month that “we have a potential tenant that we’re trying to accommodate.”

If approved by the Metro Council, 12 new categories would be permitted in the W-2 Waterfront District, an area bounded by the river to the north; the South Fork of Beargrass Creek to the east; I-71 and I-64 to the south; and the I-65 bridges to the west.

The special zoning district in and around Waterfront Park where officials are seeking to expand land use rules.

They include antique shops, banquet and event spaces, bakeries, art galleries, and artists’ studios. Businesses selling bicycles, museums, arboretums, “historic buildings and grounds”, museums and libraries, among others, would also be authorized.

Breweries and distilleries would also be permitted and could have tasting and tasting rooms if production takes place indoors in a space of 15,000 square feet or less. This size was chosen because waterfront officials felt it was an “appropriate size/scale adjacent to the park,” Bilitiski said in an email.

The River Road building appears to be less than 15,000 square feet, according to a WDRB News analysis of online data hosted by the Louisville/Jefferson County Information Consortium.

The riverside company paid Riverway Louisville Terminal Co. $2.5 million for the property in 1996, according to online records.

One use would be removed from the land use planning code as auto service stations are no longer permitted in the area. Other permitted uses would remain, including restaurants like the planned Pig Beach BBQ project for the former Doc’s Cantina building in the park.

Brooklyn-based Pig Beach announced last November that it planned to open in the spring of 2022, but that didn’t happen. Pig Beach’s Marzi Daoust said in an email that the company was “working on a variety of supply chain issues that have caused construction delays.” She did not provide an expected opening date.

The zoning district includes other properties owned by the Waterfront Development Corp., a public agency whose members are appointed by the Governor of Kentucky, the Mayor of Louisville, and the Metro Council, as well as land owned by the Metro government.

It also includes private properties on River Road which now house Zero’s Luxe Lounge, Browning Equipment Co. and the River Park Apartments, as well as the Waterfront Botanical Gardens on Frankfort Avenue and River Road.

Waterfront Park Development Manager Ashley Smith told the Louisville Metro Planning Commission earlier this month that no landowners who would be affected objected to the proposed new uses.

The planning commission recommended that the Metro Council approve the changes. The council’s planning and zoning committee is due to consider the ordinance at its meeting on Tuesday.

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