Economic Development Newsroom

City to Purchase Historic Colonial Gardens

Monday April 8, 2013

The city plans to purchase Colonial Gardens, the historic South End landmark near Iroquois Park, to gain control of the property and market it for redevelopment, Mayor Greg Fischer announced today.

“I believe Colonial Gardens has great potential and my economic development team is eager to market the property,” Fischer said. “With the proximity to the park and the Iroquois Amphitheatre, there is potential for a broader redevelopment strategy in the area.”

The Mayor introduced an ordinance at Metro Council today to purchase the property for $430,000. The lead sponsor is Councilmember Marianne Butler and the city will use general fund dollars to do so, said Chief Financial Officer Steve Rowland.

Ted Smith, Director of Economic Growth and Innovation, said the city is already in preliminary discussion with a potential buyer.

“The property is part of our heritage and is a great location and gathering for food and drink -- so any redevelopment will likely take advantage of what has worked there in the past,” he said. “We have an opportunity to bring ownership of this great location back to Louisville and let entrepreneurs bring ideas that fit with the amenities of the area”

Colonial Gardens has been closed and empty for years, and it was listed in 2012 as one of the 10 most endangered historic places in Louisville by Preservation Louisville.

“One of the attributes that makes Louisville unique is our architectural and cultural heritage,” Fischer said. “While other cities have demolished much of their history, Louisville has saved much of ours.”

Colonial Gardens played a critical role in the development of the South End and

Iroquois Park, according to documents submitted to city government when the property was designated a local landmark in 2008.

It was built by innovative entrepreneurs’ Fred and Minnie Senning in 1902 and it operated as a restaurant and, later, a zoo and beer garden.

Frederick Senning was a German immigrant who arrived in Louisville in 1868.

NOTE: For more information, read the 2008 Local Landmark designation, with historic photos.