Weyland Ventures plots hotel, restaurant for prime Highlands site

Louisville-based commercial real estate developer Weyland Ventures LLC plans to revitalize three Highlands properties that went to auction last year into a hotel and restaurant.

The local real estate firm has filed an overlay permit application with Louisville Metro Government to rehab three buildings at 900-912 Baxter Avenue into a 69-room hotel with a roughly 4,700-square-foot restaurant, according to site plans filed with the city.

The name of the hotel and the restaurant concept were not disclosed, but the company states in the application that it will spend almost $2 million alone on exterior renovations. The buildings total 43,000 square feet.

The project will also include an outdoor patio area and an expanded parking lot, the plans show.

Mariah Gratz, CEO of Weyland Ventures, said it will use historic tax credits to help fund the redevelopment and saw a unique opportunity to do an interesting project here.

“We thought this was a great location in the Highlands, she said. “The Highlands is a fantastic neighborhood.”

She declined to discuss specifics about the hotel project, saying the firm is still working through the details of the plan.

Weyland Ventures purchased the buildings for a little more than $1.4 million last month from an affiliate of Louisville-based development firm Nicklies Development, according to a Jefferson County deed. As I previously reported in October, the properties were placed on the market for absolute auction by Elizabethtown, Kentucky-based Tranzon Asset Advisors.

Nicklies said by phone then that his firm once had a plan to redevelop the properties into high-end apartment lofts with ground-level retail space, but the effort kept getting pushed back as it took on new projects.

‚ÄúAbout the time we were ready to do something, we‚Äôd take on another big project,‚ÄĚ Nicklies said of the Baxter Avenue buildings. ‚ÄúWe finally decided we need to move on and let someone get this property developed.‚ÄĚ

The Baxter Avenue properties were previously used by Omega National Products, which made disco balls and custom mill and woodwork products on site, among other items.

Weyland Ventures has been highly active in the NuLu neighborhood over the years, particularly when it comes to mixed-income housing. Its residential developments there have included Quad Apartments, Park Edge, City Homes on Hancock Green and 310 at NuLu.The firm also opened the five-story, 100-room Home2 Suites by Hilton Louisville in the NuLu/medical district area.

Likewise, the company has experience with mixed-use developments that include hospitality and food and beverage components. Early next month it will open the Hancock House, a 16-unit micro-boutique hotel in the former Louisville Chemical building at 601 E. Jefferson St. The Seafood Lady restaurant is relocating into Hancock House.

Weyland Ventures also has partnered with former nightclub owner and Louisville native Scott Smith to create ChurchKey, a themed restaurant, sports bar and event venue concept in NuLu that will be spread across more than 20,000 square feet and a roughly 4,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard in a former NuLu Church at 600 E. Market St. That project should open later this year.

The building previously housed the Refuge in Kentucky Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith Inc.