LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The developer of the long-promised SouthPointe Commons retail hub in Fern Creek is suing Metro government over a traffic issue along Bardstown Road that allegedly threatens the viability of the $80 million project.
In a lawsuit filed Dec. 16, SouthPointe Partners says Metro government’s “short-sighted planning” could result in “harmful traffic gridlock” at the new, signalized entry point to the development, Bardstown Road and SouthPointe Boulevard.
The 48-acre, 363,000-square-foot development at the southeast corner of Bardstown Road and the Gene Snyder Freeway was originally approved in 2010, and this is the third time the project has become mired in litigation.
Inspired by Old Brownsboro Crossing – the eastern Jefferson County retail center that includes Costco and Norton Brownsboro Hospital – SouthPointe Commons has long promised a mix of restaurants, stores and other attractions to serve the growing suburbs around Fern Creek.
“It will truly be the economic focal point of dining, shopping and entertainment here in the Fern Creek area,” Frank Csapo, CEO of Louisville-based Barrister Commercial Group, the company leading the development, said at a groundbreaking ceremony in March 2017.
So far, only one building has appeared on the SouthPointe Commons site, a planned Panera Bread that had been projected to open in April 2020 but sits vacant.
Barrister Commercial Group did not respond to requests for comment, and its attorneys declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit involves the new, signalized intersection at the entrance to SouthPointe Commons. SouthPointe Partners says it spent $2 million to build the intersection at Metro government’s direction.
It did so in concert with Bates Elementary School, which shares the access to the new traffic signal on Bardstown Road.
At issue is Metro government’s approval last year of a much smaller retail development on the other side of Bardstown Road, where a Liberty Financial credit union is planned.
SouthPointe Partners objects to Liberty Financial’s plan to realign Bartley Drive through the credit union development so that it joins the new, signalized intersection on its west side.
Metro government didn’t require Liberty Financial to perform the same, extensive traffic analysis that SouthPointe Partners had to undertake to ensure the intersection will function properly now that a “fourth leg” and more turning movements will be added to it, according to the lawsuit.
The new intersection is just south of the Snyder Freeway, where traffic exiting southbound onto Bardstown Road can back up in the evening rush.
An attorney representing Liberty Financial did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a related lawsuit involving the Bartley Drive plan, the credit union has asked for SouthPointe Partners’ claims to be dismissed.
Metro government declined to comment, according to a spokesman for its counsel, the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office.
Panera Bread’s corporate office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
SouthPointe Commons first went to bat with residents who challenged the development’s zoning approval, ultimately prevailing in court.
The development then faced a different challenge when Metro government balked at its desired name for SouthPointe Boulevard, at first saying it was too similar to an existing street in Louisville Metro and then saying the name for the new street contained too many letters. SouthPointe Commons prevailed at the Kentucky Court of Appeals.