Grange Business Park
seeks support from city, county
County business leaders
look to area officials for funds
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (July 2005) The goal of the
Oldham County Economic Development Authority is to create employment
opportunities within the county. OCEDA may soon partner with city and
county officials to accomplish this in the creation of a 1,000-acre
business park in La Grange.
OCEDA is a non-profit organization with the interest
of the community at heart, said Joe Schoenbaechler, Oldham County
Chamber of Commerce president. He has been serving as acting OCEDA director
since the departure of former OCEDA director, James Roark, whose contract
was not renewed.
Last year, OCEDA purchased an option from Badgett Holdings Ltd. of Madisonville,
Ky., on 1,000-acres in the southern part of La Grange. The property
is located between I-71, New Moody Lane and Hwy. 53. OCEDAs intent
is to exercise the option on or near July 1, said Schoenbaechler.
After purchasing the option, work was begun on a general plan of development
to see what the property could look like. The Oldham County Planning
and Zoning Commission then had to approve a Master Plan and rezone the
area. The Planning Commission reviewed the ordinance in April and approved
it. It is zoned as a planned unit development, said Emily Liu of the
In March, the La Grange City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance
that would create a partnership between the city and the county to pay
$20 million in bonds and split the money derived from some taxes. This
will pay for the property purchase and initial infrastructure improvements.
The La Grange City Council approved the business park plans on May 16
and will annex the entire property. Fiscal Court heard the first reading
of an ordinance for this project on June 21.
OCEDA will own the property and pay off the debt service through the
sale of lots. If OCEDA cannot pay the debt service, the responsibility
will fall to the city and county. Each government entity plans to set
aside funds in an account for a years worth of debt service if
such an amount is need.
Architects from Scott Klausing and Co. developed the Master Plan for
this project. The Master Plan calls for 2.7 million square feet of office
space, 300,000 square feet of retail space and 850 housing units, said
In addition to residential and commercial areas, expanded golf courses
and a 17-acre elementary school site, known as a True Neighborhood School,
are slated for development. The community would be able to use the school
for non-school related events, and its library would be open to the
public. Various ball and soccer fields would connect to a park system.
Plans call for a multitude of residential living units, including high-end
single-family homes, golf villas, rentals, condos, and patio-garden
homes, said Master Plan architect Fran Scott. The homes will accommodate
all ages and all family types. Many will be recreational oriented.
The property will also include many forms of non-residential units,
said Scott, but no heavy industry. The only light industry permitted,
if any, will be knowledge-based industries. This would include office
jobs or high-tech jobs.
There will be a center of development, known as the Neighborhood Center
that will promote a combination of uses. It will be a 21st century
version of downtown La Grange, said Scott.
The buildings would contain retail business on the first level, with
residential above. They would be high end, small-scale shops such as
cafes, comedy clubs, bookstores and coffeehouses. No superstores would
be permitted to build on the site.
The East Point business development, the Neighborhood Center at Norton
Commons and the open-air shopping area of The Summit, all in eastern
Louisville, are a few examples that have incorporated ideas that may
also be used in the La Grange Business Park.
There are a number of mixed use developments throughout the country,
said Scott. He compared his plans to that of Cool Springs, a business
park in Franklin County, Tenn. He called this southern Nashville complex
the closest prototype of such an idea.
Two years ago, a group of Oldham Countians toured the Cool Springs
development and were treated to a presentation from developers who had
constructed Cool Springs business park. The Oldham County property
presents an excellent opportunity for the city, said Scott.
Oldham County District 4 Magistrate Steve Greenwell, who was on the
purchase agreement committee, said Oldham County needs this very
It is a good move for the county because it will not only broaden the
tax base but also attract and retain businesses to create more jobs
within the county, he said.
This project has been on the table since the fall 2003, said Greenwell.
The Master Plan is a good one and just needs following through,
he said. He would like to see a reasonable timeline established soon
to get things accomplished.
State law requires a development authority to be made available, so
the newly formed Oldham-La Grange Economic Development Authority will
handle the financial aspects of the purchase agreement, including distribution
of the $20 million in bond money. The six-member board will include
three county officials and three city officials.
La Grange Mayor Elsie Carter recently returned from a trip to New York
with several OCEDA members and Judge-Executive Mary Ellen Kinser. The
bond council had to apply for a bond rating, said Carter. The
applicants had to go to New York to do this.
The rating is expected to be released before July 1. The elected officials
signing the bond includes Schoenbaechler and the city attorney, and
they had to answer questions about La Grange and its finances while
there, said Carter. They had to show that the city would be able
to sustain this big of a loan, she said.
Carter said this is a good way to relieve the debt service on the citizens
of La Grange. Its a big step for the city; a step in the
One company has come forward to put down a large deposit on a tract
of land within the business park. The name of the company cannot be
disclosed yet because a contract has not been signed, but it would create
400 jobs. The selling price depends upon the companys ability
to provide jobs, said Carter.
Increased traffic congestion between Hwy. 53 and I-71 is a major concern
of this project. Ideas have surfaced for an overpass to alleviate the
anticipated traffic flow. The overpass would connect Allen Lane at Commerce
Parkway to New Moody Lane. A new turning lane onto New Moody and other
roadway improvements would be needed said Schoenbaechler.
The Master Plan shows the potential for an interstate interchange, but
an overpass is more probable. The proposed interstate interchange site
is too close to the existing La Grange interchange.
We dont need an interchange to make this project work, but
we do need an overpass, said Schoenbaechler.
State funding has been secured for a feasibility study for the overpass
option, said Liu. Necessary improvements include right-of-way issues,
the number of lanes needed and placement of necessary turning lanes.
This overpass project would need the approval of the federal government,
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