LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro officials have reached a deal with Underhill Associates to convert the historic Colonial Gardens property across from Iroquois Park into a development anchored by locally owned businesses such as restaurants and coffee shops.

The city will give the property to Underhill for $1 and contribute an additional $1.2 million toward the construction of 16,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space, said Jeff Mosley of the Louisville Metro Department of Economic Growth & Innovation. The development agreement will be signed early next week, he said.

One hurdle remains – the relocation of a Little Caesars pizza restaurant whose lease runs through August 2017, Mosely said.

Once Little Caesars is persuaded to move, the deal with Underhill calls for construction to begin within 150 days and a grand opening within 500 days, Mosley said.

Colin Underhill, a partner in Underhill Associates, said no tenants have been signed, but ideas include "a beer-garden type atmosphere" with a shared patio and restaurants such as a breakfast café, sushi, pizza or ice cream.

A major goal is to bring independent, local businesses to South Louisville, he said.

"We want to bring some good stuff down there and we think people in the area will support local businesses," Underhill said.

Mayor Greg Fischer said in a prepared statement Friday: "This important project will not only save a piece of Louisville history, it will bring new retail and restaurants to South Louisville. The Underhill family is committed to creating a vibrant, new future for Colonial Gardens and the city is honored to partner with them on this economic key development project."

Metro Councilman Dan Johnson, whose district includes the development, said the Underhills told him a Bluegrass Brewing Co. is in the works.

While BBC is one of about 30 businesses Underhill is targeting, there are no current discussions with the brew pub, Colin Underhill said.

Mosley said the city is trying to find another site for Little Caesars and declined to say what additional costs Metro government might incur in persuading the restaurant to give up its lease years early.

Mike Michalak, the Little Ceaser's franchisee, was unavailable for comment Friday.

Johnson said the success of other Underhill developments like Westport Village gives him confidence in the Colonial Gardens project.

"They are going to make it a wildly successful thing," he said.

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