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MOUNT WASHINGTON - Efforts to commercialize nearly 15 acres of open land on the corner of Highway 44 and Armstrong Lane came to fruition Monday as dozens gathered to break ground on a new development.
With the ground breaking of Mount Washington Crossings came news that Bardstown-based Keystone Cinemas will be the development’s first tenant.
Keystone Cinemas president and general manager, Andy Stone, said he appreciated the opportunity to be the first of many tenants of Mount Washington Crossings.
“We are absolutely ecstatic,” he said.
Stone hopes to begin excavation by the end of April. If all goes well, he said they could begin exhibition of first-run Hollywood releases by the end of October.
The contractor selected for the project was Bardstown based Buzicks Construction, which built Keystone’s current location in Bardstown.
Mayor Joetta Calhoun welcomed Mount Washington Crossings and Keystone Cinemas, stating that the development would not only benefit Mount Washington, but the surrounding areas, offering more retail, more entertainment and more economic opportunities.
Stone estimated the Mount Washington Keystone Cinema would employ 25 local workers, mostly part-time, with four full-time positions.
The eight screen cinema will be completely digital with four 3-D screens. Stone said the sound fidelity and picture quality would be spectacular in every auditorium.
The Mount Washington Keystone will also feature concessions in the lobby along with a video arcade.
With hundreds of residents living just behind the development, Mount Washington Keystone Cinema project manager, Eric Keyes, of Louisville based Keyes Architects and Associates said they kept the neighborhoods in mind when plans were put to paper.
The movie theater will back up to the Forest Ridge subdivision with parking facing Highway 44. Keyes said positioning parking further away from the subdivision would buffer traffic and noise.
Realizing that many residents living in the subdivisions behind the development were concerned about traffic in the already congested area, Stone announced that a temporary stop light would be constructed at the intersection of Highway 44 and Armstrong Lane within the next few months.
While a temporary stop light will help relieve some of the congestion in the interim, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plans to improve the intersection of Fisher and Armstrong Lanes by aligning the two roads, adding turning lanes and erecting a permanent stop light.
Rep. Linda Belcher, who has worked to expedite the project in the General Assembly over the past couple years, said funding was in place and it was only a matter of time before construction began.
KYTC District 5 spokesperson Andrea Clifford said the latest preliminary drawings on the KY 44 intersection at Armstrong and Fisher lanes were nearly final after being thoroughly reviewed during their December plans review meeting.
Stressing that the preliminary drawings were subject to change, review comments were being addressed and updated plans would soon be available.
Clifford said District 5 would submit a right-of-way plan to Frankfort in the coming months and they should begin the process of acquiring seven parcels for right-of-way later this year.
The starting date for construction will depend on the right-of-way process.
Clifford said KYTC’s timeline would not coincide with the construction of the movie theater, but she said the transportation cabinet was committed to moving forward with the project.
The project drawings include a left turn lane to southbound Armstrong Lane from 44 westbound, a through lane for westbound 44 traffic, and a right turn lane to northbound Fisher Lane. For eastbound traffic there is a right turn lane to southbound Armstrong Lane, a through lane for eastbound 44 traffic, and a left turn lane to northbound Fisher Lane.
For northbound traffic from Armstrong Lane - a left turn lane to westbound 44 and a through lane to northbound Fisher Lane combined with a right turn lane to eastbound 44.
For southbound traffic from Fisher Lane - a left turn lane to eastbound 44 and a through lane to southbound Armstrong Lane combined with a right turn lane to westbound 44.
Cecilia developer Mike Morgan spent years searching for an area to develop in Mount Washington before he purchased the site around five years ago after visiting the city.
He liked the way the property laid and the acreage. He also thought the area had a great deal of potential with its significant expansion and population growth and he felt the area was underserved commercially.
“We’re very pleased to see this expansion,” he said.
With Keystone on board, Morgan was confidant they could attract strong, quality tenants.
“We want to make it the best it can be,” he said.
“There are a lot of positive things to come. It should be great,” he said.
Morgan’s vision for Mount Washington Crossings is that it will include a shopping center with 24,000 square feet of space, along with retail establishments, restaurants, perhaps a bank and a gas station.
With this in mind, Morgan said traffic and safety have been his main concern.
Morgan said he’s worked with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to make sure the right steps were taken to ensure smooth traffic flow and safety.
The tentative layout for Mount Washington Crossings has two entry points, one from Armstrong Lane and the other from Highway 44, with a street running through the development to connect the two roads.
The announcement of Mount Washington Crossings was the result of cooperation between many individuals and entities, including local officials, the Bullitt County Chamber of Commerce, the Bullitt County Economic Development Authority, local financiers and the developer.
“On behalf of the Bullitt County Chamber of Commerce, I would like to congratulate Mayor Calhoun and the City of Mt. Washington on the ground breaking of yet another new business for Bullitt County,” said chamber of commerce executive director Freida Howe. “Keystone Cinemas, along with the additional retail outlots that are planned, will certainly be an asset to our community.”