Business Boom

Retailers, restaurants congregate
at Oldham-Jefferson line

Chamber, business officials take notice
of growth on Oldham County’s doorstep

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(November 2006) – Trish Garlock believes that “for a retail area to succeed, it has to be a destination.” Customers will be drawn to an area because they want to be there, she says.

November 2006 Kentucky Edition Cover

November 2006
Kentucky Edition Cover

Garlock and her husband, Rick, own The Treasured Child toy store on La Grange’s Main Street. They recently considered moving their business to a new mixed-use residential-retail development in the northern section of Oldham County called Norton Commons. For them, the move would have meant moving their home and business.
Developments like the one going up north of I-71 and near the Gene Snyder Freeway are what Garlock termed “live and work” areas. Had they moved, they would have lived over their shop and owned and operated the business themselves until they decided to give it up. Then the business would have become a rental property for them.
Garlock calls this arrangement a symbiotic relationship. People who didn’t already live there but liked what they saw would be drawn into the development to live. Other businesses would be drawn in and would feel like they were part of a special niche.
Meanwhile, just south of I-71, Old Brownsboro Crossings is quickly taking shape with Lowe’s Home Improvement, Costco Wholesale Warehouse, banks and restaurants springing up around a new Norton Medical Plaza and next to the 15-acre site of a future 127-bed Norton Brownsboro Hospital. Construction on the hospital, to be completed in two phases, is expected to begin in spring 2007. The first phase of the Medical Plaza, meanwhile, includes physicians offices, an Immediate Care Center, Diagnostic Center and Louisville Oncology.
Area residents already can shop at Lowe’s and Costco and dine at DQ Grill & Chill fast food or the Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Spirits restaurant. And a new Olive Garden restaurant is now under construction at the center.
Just beyond this development on Brownsboro Road is a new Walgreens and surrounding businesses and office complex.
Running for (tax) shelter

Olive Garden

Photo by Don Ward

The new Olive Garden is taking shape
at Old Brownsboro Crossings on
Brownsboro Road and I-265 in
eastern Jefferson County.

As residential development in and near Oldham County spreads, economic factors must scramble to keep up the pace, local officials say. New homes are constantly going up, but residents’ money must be kept within the county to keep the tax base afloat. It’s a central issue among Oldham County economic development leaders, especially those charged with bringing new jobs into the county to help offset the rising cost of local taxes on residents.
The problem is exacerbated as more people move into the county but continue to work elsewhere, usually commuting to nearby Louisville.
Joe Schoenbaechler, executive director of the Oldham County Economic Development Authority Inc., sees Norton Commons as job market competition. Approximately 436 acres lie in Metro Louisville and 159 lie in Oldham County. From a commercial standpoint, the development “affects our ability to attract retail businesses,” said Schoenbaechler.
The 595-acre Norton Commons will include 2,880 residential units, 360,000 square feet of office space and 200,000 square feet of retail area. Operating as a self-contained community, this development mimics the design elements of communities of the past, its developers say.
Garlock stressed that while such developments can be a “really big gamble for businesses,” they can also be quite convenient for those who live in the residential areas. Everything you need is right there within walking distance, she noted, including restaurants, banks, grocery stores, and entertainment options. “So many things are smart about it.”
Another plus is that Norton Commons will provide “a wonderful price range for increased property values,” said Garlock. The potential exists for more buyers with disposable incomes to pump money back into the county.
There are many benefits that can be shared, said Schoenbaechler. “Oldham County still has two-thirds of its residents traveling to Louisville every day,” he said. Such developments within the county that expand the job market would cut down on fuel and wear and tear of roads.

Norton Brownsboro Hospital

Photo by Don Ward

A sign announces the coming
Norton Brownsboro Hospital, set to
begin construction in early 2007.

At Old Brownsboro Crossings, Lowe’s officials expect to draw customers from as far away as Carrollton, heading north up I-71.
“We’re very pleased to be a part of the growth here,” said sales manager Kenny Lanham. The store will primarily service northeast Louisville and Oldham County, but also the Lake Forest subdivision near Middletown and up the I-71 corridor, Lanham said.
Lowe’s corporate offices conduct surveys to determine market conditions and this area “has proven to be a winner for us,” he said. Lowe’s located in a development with established neighborhoods around it.
There are eight Lowe’s in the Louisville area. This store will employ 150 people, mostly from Jefferson and Oldham counties.
The first Costco in Kentucky opened in late October just across the development from Lowe’s. Officials there expect to employ an average of 160 people. Manager Tony Rodriguez said Costco had located to “a very affluent, growing area.” Having been a business owner for 13 years, Rodriguez said Costco is “constantly trying to expand, and Kentucky was a prime location.”
He said Costco is well known for employing mostly local people. It is a one-stop shopping convenience offering a pharmacy, one-hour photo, electronics, house wares, fresh produce, a bakery, deli that serves fresh sandwiches, optical business, tire shop and gas pumps.
When asked if he thought Costco would compete for business with Sam’s Club, Rodriguez replied, “There is plenty of room for Costco and Sam’s Club.”

Keeping up with neighbors

Meanwhile, not all of the new developments are headed to eastern Jefferson County. Schoenbaechler cited the OCEDA business campus that is being developed on New Moody Lane in La Grange as another real boon to the local job market. The campus has already landed the Rawlings Group, a firm that compiles claims data for heath insurers. The company plans to establish a business that will employ 700 people by November 2007 as it relocates from Louisville’s Waterfront Plaza.

Costco Wholesale

Photo by Don Ward

Costco Wholesale Warehouse opened
next door in late October attracting its
first visitors, who signed up
for Costco membership.

“This will make it the largest private employer in the county,” Schoenbaechler said. While Jefferson County may be providing more service and retail job opportunities, it will take something larger like a manufacturing firm to cause more concern about a loss of jobs in Oldham County, he said.
With the implementation of the Rawlings Group within the OCEDA business campus, Oldham County will be able to hold its own in a growing urban area, officials say. There are certain things that the county does not have that Schoenbaechler would like to see it have in the campus, such as a higher education institution or more entertainment opportunities.
As long as planning is right and infrastructure elements are in place first, Schoenbaechler said the county population will increase, and it will “make sense to create new jobs.” These are the initial steps that must be taken to attract people to the county.
OCEDA is in Phase I of an interstate overpass project over I-71, and recently began road construction and improvements on the campus. An interchange ramp will be installed at Exit 22 (Hwy. 53), as well as signals and turning lanes.
Deanna Epperly Karem, Oldham County Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, said emphasis needs to be placed on recruiting, attracting and growing service industries within the county. She would like to see regional headquarters move to the area.
“This is a great time to be living and working in Oldham County,” she said. “You can feel the momentum building as the county starts to profit from its successes.”
Karem said all businesses on the east side of Jefferson County attract Oldham County residents there to eat, shop and visit doctors. But she doesn’t see any competition between the two counties in terms of job offerings. Instead, she sees Jefferson County as “a huge support system for Oldham County.”


Photo by Don Ward

Lowe's was among the first large stores
to open at the new development.

Developments such as Norton Commons provide an opportunity for jobs and adds to the quality of life, she said. “I hope this happens on both sides of the county line.”
Karem continued, “I really believe in regionalism. The more these two counties work together, the more opportunities it provides for the communities.”
Karem added that Oldham County needs to re-examine its tax base in an effort to relieve the burden from residents. The challenge comes in finding a balance between attracting people to the county and making things fair for businesses.
Another job market soon to be developed is a new hospital and doctor offices in the Anchorage area. Baptist Hospital Healthcare is building a Baptist Hospital East addition off of Old Henry Road in the East Point Business Park.
Significant growth is moving in this direction, toward eastern Jefferson County and Oldham County, said Karem. With residential comes retail, then commercial, she said.
“Even northern Kentucky is moving in this direction,” she said.
Norton Commons, Old Brownsboro Crossing and the OCEDA business campus provide “pockets that add value to the community,” said Karem. “Where we go from here will set the precedence for the future.”

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