By Wes Kerrick–
The SAC may soon have a neighbor. An auction to be held on Jan. 31 will determine the owner of a vacant lot that will likely be developed with U of L students in mind. The 1.61 acres bordering Floyd Street and Cardinal Boulevard across from the Student Activities Center will be auctioned on the site at noon.
The university may bid on it, said Mark Hebert, U of L’s director of media relations. “I have heard some rumblings,” he said, referring to a U of L community seeking additional space for a variety of uses including parking.
The property’s zoning allows for the home of a store, restaurant, bank or housing development, including other options.
Hebert said last Wednesday he did not think U of L officials had made a decision. Provost Shirley Willihnganz had told him, “We’d certainly be interested if we have a funding source.”
Project Manager Carl Pike of Indianapolis-based Key Auctioneers said his company has received a fair amount of interest from potential bidders. “I think this is a rare piece of land in a rare spot,” he said. “It’s a good piece of land and it’s got a lot of appeal.”
The property’s acreage and location in an area with substantial commerce and traffic make it attractive. Opportunities are few to buy prime development land bordered by a university campus. “It’s a blank slate that you could do anything with,” he said.
Key Auctioneers is advertising the event as an “absolute auction,” meaning the land will go to the highest bidder no matter how low the bid.
The current owner, Icon-Cards Development, LLC, of Louisville, bought the property in May 2007 for nearly $1.3 million.
The Courier-Journal reported on Jan. 8, 2008, that the development company had plans to build student housing on the land. Eight stories tall, the 350,000-square-foot building would have 384 beds.
A Belknap master plan presented by Willihnganz in November 2009 showed the land as future university-sponsored private housing. Those plans fell through, but the property will get another chance for development by the end of this month.
Photo: Val Servino/The Louisville Cardinal