Home rentals are on the rise in Louisville, with the number of residents who choose to rent a home rather than buy one at a 10-year high. We explored that trend in a recent issue of At Home, a special publication dedicated to exploring where and how locals live.
As part of that story, we also got access to three apartment complexes — the Meridian on Shelbyville, the WaterSide at RiverPark Place and the Veranda at Norton Commons — that prove that apartment living doesn’t have to mean scaling back. Check out the slideshow at right to see what we’re talking about.
Poe Companies has been hard at work during the 14 weeks of this series to make the RiverPark Place development a reality. With that in mind, it’s time for an update on all that has taken place:
One of the biggest stories on the Louisville restaurant scene was the closure of riverfront Tumbleweed on Nov. 15. Falls City Hospitality Group, which plans to open a restaurant at RiverPark Place, also reportedly is close to a deal to operate a Mexican restaurant at the 12,000-square-foot riverfront site.
That would give the group two restaurants within less than a half-mile. It operates Doc Crow’s on West Main Street and had La Coop, a French restaurant, on West Market Street, though it closed that operation on Jan. 1.
Taking on the Tumbleweed site won’t affect plans for the RiverPark Place restaurant at all, according to investor and attorney Chip Hamm.
“We had sort of settled on the RiverPark Place concept and menu before the Tumbleweed opportunity came up. We were already believers in the waterfront, so the Tumbleweed opportunity was an easy decision,” he said.
The RiverPark Place restaurant will serve roadhouse type of food – buckets of seafood and burgers – sort of like the chain Yard House, Hamm said, along with about 120 beers on tap.
Here’s the latest on the development overall from marketing director Nicki Sibley:
- Construction on the restaurant began during the last quarter of 2014; it’s expected to open in the third quarter of 2015.
- The first half of the new apartment building, Waterside East, is ready for occupancy and the first renters moved in last weekend. The second half should be ready within the next 60 days. About 30 percent of the units were pre-leased. The existing apartment building, Waterside West, remains 100 percent leased.
- Five condos in the planned 16-story condo tower have been sold, and interest remains steady.
- Poe Companies is close to securing the financing for the apartment tower, likely to be called EdgeWater East. “It’s quite possible we could be breaking ground on both towers this year,” Sibley said.
- The marina has been open for just over two years and is nearly 60 percent leased/purchased. She has fielded inquiries about reserving boat slips for Thunder and four major events are already on the schedule for the marina this summer.
- The amenity/pool area will be open by Memorial Day. “We expect it to be quite the hotspot with residents and their guests especially on nights of Waterfront Park events,” Sibley said. “We’re even looking at providing some kind of shuttle between RiverPark and Big Four or the Great Lawn for special events.”
For Louisville, the planned 16-story, 85-unit condo tower at RiverPark Place among the few luxury high-rise developments in the works.
The $289 million Center City project, to be developed by Omni Hotels & Resorts, however, has gained steam. The 30-plus-story tower, expected to be completed by 2018, will be topped by at least 225 swanky apartments. The complex also will include a 20,000-square-foot grocery store, a badly needed amenity for bolstering downtown living.
Botanical gardens to enhance riverfront
The master plan for the proposed Waterfront Botanical Gardens was unveiled in November to much excitement. While “everyone wants the gardens to be done by spring,” as board president Brian Voelker put it, there’s still much work to be done to make the vision a reality.
Nevertheless, it promises to be yet another gem in the revitalization of Louisville’s waterfront.
Plans call for a visitor’s center, children’s garden, a tropical conservatory, an elevated platform overlooking Beargrass Creek and an educational pavilion among the garden’s key features.
The board behind the project – the group’s known as Botanica, originally composed from The Louisville Area Iris Society, The Louisville Area Daylily Society and Hostas of Kentuckiana – is busy preparing to launch its capital campaign. That means deciding exactly what will be part of each phase of the project and firming up the cost estimates, Voelker said.
The board expects to spend two years raising the projected $10 million needed for the first phase, then two to three years building it, Voelker said. Three phases are planned, he said, though that might be compressed if there’s enough contributor support. The full project is expected to require around $35 million.
It’s not the first effort to create a botanical garden in Louisville. Voelker said he knows of at least two previous projects that ran into trouble with acquiring land. The proposed property for this project, at the corner of River Road and Frankfort Avenue, was used as a dump for building refuse from damaged homes after the devastating flood of 1937. The landfill was closed in the 1960s. Though previously considered a Superfund cleanup site, it’s been removed from that list. The property now has a dirt fill cap 25 feet deep.
Voelker’s confident this effort will materialize, with the board having taken a lot of time to choose the 23-acre property.
“We’ve found a lot of excitement from a lot of different people,” he said. “People are really jazzed about it. I think it will be an important feature for the community. We’ve gotten a lot of support from Metro government, which is really important. The community is really rallying behind the idea. … I think this is the time.”
He said the proximity to downtown was considered a major plus.
“Tourists who are in the area, people who are working downtown – they can drive out and see it. We just loved the location. It’s handy for residents in the area, too,” he said.
A major focus among botanical gardens these days, he said, is inspiring people to care for the environment.
“This land had just been thrown away for 50 years. Reclaiming this land will be a wonderful addition to the community. It will be inspiring people to live their values of caring for the environment.”
The project starts off with a Founders’ Garden planted around the Heigold Façade, the structure that looks like a brick doorway just across River Road from RiverPark Place. Volunteers to the project will be recruited for work days during the spring and summer, Voelker said, while other volunteers can help with fund-raising events, marketing and other tasks.
With its Buy a Brick campaign, donors of $100 or more, can have an engraved brick placed in the Founder’s Garden.
Supporters Emil and Nancy Graeser also have offered to match every gift to the garden up to $225,000
Developer Steve Poe tells the story that around the time he mothballed the RiverPark Place project in 2008, potential tenants had to have better credit to rent an apartment in Louisville than to buy a home. He decided it wasn’t the right time to add more apartments to the city’s inventory.
Things have shifted more back toward buying since then, but it’s still a major decision whether to rent or buy.
While the tax incentives and freedom to customize the property to suit your tastes – not to mention the idea that home ownership is basic to the American dream – add up on the plus side for buying, thousands of Americans found themselves unable to wrest themselves from their mortgages during the recent financial crisis.
Ralph and Joan Ross, who now rent at RiverPark Place, took a beating on their Florida mortgage when he was offered the chance for promotion to district director for the Small Business Administration, involving a move to Louisville. Unsure of how many years Ralph will continue working – they plan to retire in a home they own in Omaha, Neb. – they weren’t eager to take on another mortgage.
The idea that Millennials, too, favor the freedom to move easily to change jobs has been much in the news lately. Indeed, the share of homes sold to first-time buyers dropped to 33 percent in 2014, down five percentage points from 2013. They make up the smallest proportion of the market in 27 years, according to the National Association of Realtors.
And a study by lending giant Fannie Mae found that among “prime” first-time buyers — married couples in their early 30s with a college degree, a child and household income of at least $95,000 — home ownership fell by more than eight percentage points from 2006 to 2012.
Pat Simmons, director of strategic planning in Fannie Mae’s economic research group, points to tight lending requirements, high student debt, an unsettled job market, but also a changing view of home ownership.
“Baby boomers saw a decline of nearly $1 trillion in home value during the bust,” Simmons told the Los Angeles Times. “Younger folks saw that experience among their parents. I think that’s going to leave an impression.”
Online real estate site Zillow, however, challenges the idea that young buyers eschew home ownership, pointing out that young people are marrying later and having children later – pivotal life events that often lead to home buying.
“It’s very difficult to come up with a down payment when so much of your monthly paycheck – especially on an entry-level salary – is going to your landlord instead of into your savings. Buying conditions are getting better every day, and in time the allure of fixed housing payments and building wealth through home equity will draw more buyers out of rentals and into homeownership,” Zillow says in a report.
A recent report from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority found 74 percent of renters have household incomes below $50,000 compared to 41 percent of homeowners, and 39 percent of renters are married compared to 63 percent of homeowners.
However, according to Zillow: “Our economists believe that 2015 will be an important year for first-time homebuyers, as Millennials who have delayed home ownership overtake Generation X as the largest generational group of homebuyers.”
Meanwhile, another Fannie Mae economist says consumers remain leery, saying 2015 “likely [will] not be a breakout year for housing,”
Zillow maintains that buying makes more sense than renting in most parts of the country – California and New England excluded.
A New York Times calculator puts the magic number at $961 – if you can rent the home you want for less than that, then renting makes more sense.
One bedroom apartments in Louisville rent for $922 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $847, according to the site Rent Jungle.
That could explain the preference for buying in Louisville, in which 64.5 percent of households own their home, compared with 63.4 among 75 other cities, according to a report from Louisville’s Metropolitan Housing Coalition. Louisville’s ownership rate, however, was 70.3 in 2003, but dipped to 61.7 percent in 2011.
Housing prices have increased 6.9 percent in Louisville since 2009, the report states.
The site Mortgage Calculator puts the median price of an existing single-family home is $133,000, compared with the national average of $172,900.
With the apparent desire, and need, to satisfy both renters and buyers, RiverPark Place is now pre-selling condos in its Edgewater at RiverPark Place tower, adding to its luxury apartments for renters.
For years, while driving by that lopped-off end of the Big Four Bridge, 53 feet off the ground, it was hard to imagine how that rusting “bridge to nowhere” could become a recreational treasure.
Yet “good things come to those who wait, and wait, and wait,” David Karem, president of the Louisville Waterfront Development Corp., said when the completed pedestrian walkway across the Ohio River finally opened in May 2014.
The $41 million project was part of the 13-acre Phase III of Louisville’s waterfront redevelopment plan. Though the half-mile circular ramp to the bridge on the Louisville side opened in February 2014, there was no way down on the Indiana side until more than a year later.
Since then, more than 1 million people have hoofed it from one state to another across the bridge.
Now, like Cincinnati’s “Purple People Bridge,” which allows people to park in the northern Kentucky side and walk to games at its riverfront stadiums, Louisville’s Big Four offers a similar function.
To many people though, walking the bridge is the destination itself. On warm summer evenings, it can be packed with gawkers at the boats along the river and the changing colors as the sun dips from the sky.
“It’s very egalitarian,” says Joan Ross, who lives at the RiverPark Place apartments. “You see old people, you see teenagers, you kind of see everybody. You can walk there and watch the sun set.”
Going to dinner across the bridge – the half-mile span has a quarter-mile ramp on each end, making crossing the bridge a two-mile walk by itself – involves about 8,000 steps on her Fitbit step counter. And it’s right in their back yard.
They like to take their bikes across and connect up with the Ohio River Greenway on the Indiana side.
“That’s one of the great things about it,” says Joan’s husband, Ralph. “You don’t have to put your bikes on the car to go there, then afterward put the bikes back on the car.”
The bridge has been a boon to existing businesses on the Jeffersonville side, such as Ann’s by the River and Schimpff’s Confectionery, but also bring in new ones such as Red Yeti Brewing Co. and Flat 12 Bierwerks. Jeff’s $3 million marina project, expected to be completed by next October, could bring in more day-trippers.
Though the bridge has been a boon to local businesses, Jeffersonville has been dealing with issues of its own since the bridge opened, including concerns about pedestrian safety, accessibility for residents and businesses and a perceived lack of parking.
With Tumbleweed closed on the Lousiville side and the restaurant planned at RiverPark Place yet to be built, there are fewer dining options for foot traffic coming from Indiana.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that [positive effect] on this side of the river because of the Bridges Project effectively cutting Nulu off from Waterfront Park and the walking traffic that the bridge has generated,” says Rick Murphy, vice president of the Nulu Business Association, the East Market Street business district.
The association hopes that will change with completion of the Bridges Project, which should coincide with the completion of the Nulu streetscape improvement project.
“In anticipation of that, we have discussed ways to encourage people to include Nulu in visits to Waterfront Park and the Big Four Bridge,” he said.
There have been discussions about possible shuttles operating on weekends and the new bike-share program planned for next year that will place racks at the bridge, in Nulu and downtown.
There’s an unending parade off the balcony at Ralph and Jane Ross’s home.
“We never get tired of it,” said Ralph, speaking of the constant barge traffic on the Ohio River. “It’s actually a wet interstate highway.”
The Rosses are among the renters living at RiverPark Place. Their two-bedroom apartment looks out across the site where the new condo tower and restaurant are to go in, the marina beyond and farther on, the river with tugboats maneuvering loads in both directions.
The Rosses say they have a terrific view for Thunder Over Louisville, and had a bird’s-eye view of the triathlon this year.
They moved to Louisville in January 2012 from Jacksonville, Fla., when Ralph took the job as district director for the Small Business Administration. They initially took a third-floor walkup apartment in The Highlands, but over time, the stairs became too much, they said.
“We wanted to live downtown,” Jane said. “We looked at all the properties, but there really wasn’t that much available.” But all the time they were living in The Highlands, she was riding her bike downtown and watching the Poe Companies’ development going up.
They had taken a beating on the sale of their Florida home and weren’t eager to dive into home ownership again with Ralph’s retirement not too far out of sight, so they opted to rent. They plan to retire in a home they own in Omaha, Neb.
Jane’s daughter’s family also has moved to Louisville, where she’s pursing a PhD at the University of Louisville. Jane drives her twin 2-year-old and 4-year-old grandchildren to school three times a week.
“They love to come to Grandma’s house and do bubbles off the balcony,” she said.
Married just three years, in Florida they had merged her 3,000-square-foot household and his 1,800-square-foot condo.
“We thought that was really downsizing,” Ralph said with a laugh. “The real issue here was whether we could live in a 1,000-square-foot apartment.”
But they’ve managed. Ralph had to give up his Barcalounger, but they’ve gained an uber-friendly Wheaten terrier named Izzy, who believes everyone in the park wants to pet her. It helps that they live in a park.
Though people think there’s no shopping nearby, the Crescent Hill Kroger and CVS on Brownsboro Road are only about a mile and a quarter away. “People don’t realize how close they are,” Jane said.
A planned Omni Hotel development that would include an upscale grocery store downtown reportedly is “on track,” though developers sought to delay a deadline associated with that project.
The Rosses moved in before the Big Four Bridge opened, though it has opened up an array of opportunities for them.
“It’s like the paseo in Madrid,” said Jane, who has traveled extensively in Europe. “People come out to walk the bridge. You see old people, you see teenagers, you kind of see everybody. You can walk there and watch the sun set.”
They love to walk across to the Indiana side for dinner – it’s about 8,000 steps on her Fitbit step counter, Jane said – and by the time you get back, you’ve walked off part of the calories!
They enjoyed being able to walk to a restaurant even when they lived in The Highlands.
“If we walk to a restaurant and share a bottle of wine between us with dinner, no one’s driving,” Ralph pointed out.
The Rosses also have bicycled extensively in Europe and enjoy taking their bikes across the bridge and connecting up with the Ohio River Greenway or taking the Beargrass Creek Trail to Cherokee Park.
During the recent Centennial Festival of Riverboats, they walked down to ride the Belle of Louisville. They joined hundreds, if not thousands in the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown bike ride to Iroquois Park.
“Louisville’s a town that has a fun public life,” Ralph said. “It’s a town that likes to do things together. People like to gather down on the river for any old reason at all.”
Click below to read the Courier Journal report on our newly implemented Poo Prints program. We’re doing all we can to keep the grounds clean and green!
by Taylor Harrison, Courier Journal, August 4, 2014
On the cover of the Courier Journal today, check out the piece on RiverPark Place’s development.
RiverPark Place developers proceeding with $23 million second phase, including 162 more apartments
Sheldon Shafer • Courier Journal • August 25, 2013
With the first 167 apartments that recently opened already rented and a waiting list for 40 more rental units, the RiverPark Place developers are preparing to move on the $23 million next phase with 162 more apartments. Read the full post here
On Tuesday, March 26, 2013 RiverPark Marina won best Retail/Restaurant Project in theBusiness First Commercial Real Estate Awards. To read the full article, click here
By Bill Francis • WDRB • December 12, 2012
It is a place where residents can live near water and a park, already a $25 million development with plans for much more. To read the full story, click here
A very nice production showing the history of Waterfront Park as well as a glimpse of the future. WaterSide is proud to be a part of such a beautiful park.
Would you like to live along the Ohio River with a view of Towhead Island near Waterfront Park?
By: Bill Francis • WDRB News
Work is now on underway on a $120 million development just east of the park. The first phase of RiverPark Place along the river is well under construction now.
“What people like, no matter where they live, is to be near water and they like to be near parks,” says RiverPark Place developer Steve Poe. “RiverPark place is the best of both worlds,” says Poe, “we are actually on the water and we are part of and in the park.”
Click here to continue reading and see the video!
Work Starts on Jeffersonville Ramp to Big Four Bridge
By: Ben Zion Hershberg • The Courier Journal
Linda Williams said she’s excited to see fencing spring up along Chestnut and Mulberry streets and construction equipment and materials accumulating behind the fences as work starts on Jeffersonville‘s ramp to the Big Four Bridge.
“We’re happy to see any kind of progress,” said Williams, who has a ringside seat for the ramp construction from her Old Bridge Inn at 131 W. Chestnut St., across Pearl Street from where the ramp will start.
“It won’t hurt my business,” Williams said, adding that she’s even more excited about the potential benefits to merchants on nearby Spring Street from pedestrian traffic crossing the Big Four Bridge from Louisville. She may open a small shop in her bed and breakfast aimed at such visitors, Williams said.
The Gohmann Asphalt and Construction Co. won a $6.5 million contract from the Indiana Department of Transportation in February to build the ramp, which will run from the bridge down Mulberry Street and then east on Chestnut to Pearl Street.
The ramp will complete the conversion of the former railroad bridge into a pedestrian and bicycle path across the Ohio River from downtown Louisville.
Conversion of the Big Four to a pedestrian route was part of the 1991 master plan for Louisville’s Waterfront Park. A spiral ramp to the bridge has been completed in Louisville at a cost of $6.5 million in private contributions, and reconstruction of the bridge deck for walkers and cyclists is under way.
The Jeffersonville ramp, the last part of the conversion, is expected to open in March 2013.
Andy Couch, Jeffersonville’s city engineer, said utility lines in the route of the bridge ramp are being relocated, and roads have been blocked and fences and plastic silt barriers have been erected around the site.
The first two pylons to support the ramp will soon be erected on the river and city sides of the floodwall at Mulberry Street, said former Mayor Rob Waiz, now economic development director.
“It will do a lot for downtown Jeffersonville,” he said.
There is one shotgun house on Chestnut near Mulberry Street that must still be moved or demolished, Waiz said.
He thinks the house most likely will be torn down in a couple of weeks because no buyers have expressed interest in the 1940s-era residence.
Some of its block may be used in structures in the park the city is planning for the area, Waiz said.
Waiz said he expects two other homes on Pearl Street to be moved because of their historic value, adding that none of the demolition or house-moving plans will delay ramp construction.
“We are very excited, we see there is work being done” on the Big Four ramp, said Jill Schimpff, co-owner of Schimpff’s Confectionery on Spring Street in downtown Jeffersonville.
She’s confident the Big Four will bring shoppers from Louisville to her business and others on Spring Street, Schimpff said.
She has an idea for a celebration or festival when the Big Four opens, with Jeffersonville’s merchants putting up booths and signs along the river — if not on the bridge itself — to welcome pedestrians, Schimpff said.
“I think when it’s complete we will have a big bridge party,” Schimpf said, with her shop providing bridge mix for the festivities.
Work under way on apartments by river
by Sheldon S. Shafer • The Courier Journal • March 11, 2012
After years of delays, work is nearing completion on RiverPark Place Marina, a 149-slip facility that will be a centerpiece of the RiverPark Place development just upriver from Waterfront Park along the Ohio River.
Boats should begin pulling into the $7 million marina in early April, said Steve Poe, the lead partner in RiverPark Place.
And construction is well under way — with most of the foundation in place — on a 167-unit, $25 million apartment building along River Road. The units at RiverPark Place are due to be ready for residents in early 2013, Poe said.
The building will include four levels of housing on top of a parking structure, elevating the residences above the river’s 100-year flood plain.
As many as 2,000 more dwellings are expected to be developed at RiverPark Place over the next decade or so, Poe said.
Along with the marina and the 167 apartments, phase one of the development will include completion in four to six weeks of a 12- to 16-foot-wide asphalt and concrete promenade about 3,500 feet in length along the river’s edge next to the marina.
It will connect with the existing walkway that runs the entire length of Waterfront Park to the west and a shorter shared-use path for walkers, bikers and joggers linking with Eva Bandman Park just upriver.
Mike Kimmel, deputy director of the Waterfront Development Corp., which oversees Waterfront Park and negotiated the development agreement with Poe on RiverPark Place, said, “The marina is going to be beautiful, and right on the edge of a $100 million park. People will be able to walk right along the river’s edge. And they can stop at the marina shop and get a soft drink.”
Plans for developing the riverfront site date to the late 1980s, when a previous investment group first proposed a mixed-use project called FallsHarbor. It was eventually shelved amid numerous setbacks, after which the Poe group, named River Partners LLC, was granted rights to try to develop the 40-acre site in 2004.
Poe tabled his efforts in 2008 as the recession began to deepen, but only after spending $16 million to start the marina as well as on extensive design, engineering and site work, including environmental studies.
Poe called the RiverPark Place site, which he is leasing from the city, “one of the premier pieces of property up and down the Ohio River — not only is it on the water, but it’s adjacent to a park, near downtown and five minutes from the interstates.”
After arranging financing with the help of federal and state tax credits that provided about $4.5 million in equity toward the marina’s construction, work resumed on the marina in November.
Crews have begun installing the floating docks. About 30 slips will be sold for about $40,000 to $80,000. So far about half have been purchased. The remaining slips will be leased for $2,700 to $5,950 a year.
Marina amenities will include parking, cable television capability, and electric and water hookups. Poe said each slip will have access to either an individual or shared floating dock. Slip berths are 40, 55 or 70 feet in length.
Poe said he expects owners of some large vessels to live on their boats year-round at the marina.
The marina will have one slip reserved for a marina store that will function as a small restaurant and also sell convenience items and supplies for boaters. It also will offer laundry, restroom and shower facilities for slip owners.
Larry and Linda Bailey, who live in Palymra, Ind., recently bought one of the slips. They formerly had a slip at the old Louisville Municipal Boat Harbor, where the new marina is being built.
“This will be one of the finest areas to dock and the setting will be picturesque. It will be a real safe community,” said Larry Bailey, who now has a large boat docked in Utica, Ind. He said Poe is building an extra-large, 100-foot slip for the Baileys that will allow two vessels they own to be berthed. Bailey said the couple will pretty much live at the new marina year-round, adding that “we probably will have to put a mailbox up on River Road.”
Harris Bank of Chicago provided the construction loan to build the first apartment building. Just over half of the units will have one bedroom, and the rest two bedrooms, with space ranging from 550 to 1,300 square feet. The units will lease for $699 to around $1,500 a month. Each will have a balcony.
Poe said he has been getting a large number of inquiries about renting the units. A leasing office has opened at 1250 River Road, with formal pre-leasing to begin in May.
Poe said his company eventually intends to develop as many as 2,000 apartments and condominium units in about a dozen residential buildings at RiverPark Place. The plans call for at least two 17-story residential towers as well as seven or eight restaurants, plus retail and office development, Poe said.
Construction on a second apartment building could begin soon. But Poe said the schedule of subsequent housing at the site will be driven by how quickly the units are leased or sold.
REI, a real-estate investment company based in Indianapolis, recently joined Poe as a 50 percent partner in the entire venture, buying the interest of some other local investors.
By: Sheldon Shafer • The Courier Journal • December 5, 2011
Twenty-two years after plans were first announced and more than three years after the most recent round of work was shelved, officials marked the resumption of construction Monday on the massive RiverPark Place project just upriver from Waterfront Park.
Rain sent a planned ground-breaking for a 166-apartment building indoors. The housing is to go near where work on a 150-slip marina is well under way.
The marina is expected to be ready for boaters in April — about the same time as a 3,000-foot extension of a 16-foot wide, asphalt and concrete promenade is completed through the development site. The pathway will link Waterfront Park to the west with Beargrass Creek and Eva Bandman Park to the east.
“This has been a long-anticipated project,” Mayor Greg Fischer said of RiverPark Place. “It will be a fantastic place to live and a great boost for us economically….I think it will quickly become one of the hotspots of the city.”
Fischer, along with Steve Poe, the lead developer of RiverPark Place, and David Karem, president of the Waterfront Development Corp., which manages Waterfront Park, presided at a news conference at the soon-to-open RiverPark Place sales office at 1250 River Road, just across from the development area.
Plans for developing the prime riverfront parcel, about 40 acres, date to the late 1980s, when a previous investment group first proposed a mixed-use project called FallsHarbor. It never materialized after many years of trying, and the Poe-led group, called River Partners LLC, was granted development rights by the waterfront agency in 2004.
Poe shelved his group’s effort in early 2008 amid the stagnant economy and because of difficulty in obtaining financing — but only after spending about $16 million on initial marina work and also on extensive design and site work and on engineering and environmental studies. The investors recently resumed work on the marina.
In noting the construction getting under way on the housing, Karem said, “Good things come to those who wait, and wait….and wait….and wait.”
In an interview Poe said about 20 of the marina slips have already been commited for sale, for $30,000 to $80,000 each. He said only about 20 more will be sold, with the rest to be rented for $2,200 to $4,100 a year.
Federal and state tax credits, sold to U.S. Bank, are providing about $4.5 milion in equity toward the marina’s construction, while Poe’s new partner in RiverPark Place, the REI real estate investment company based in Indianapolis, has agreed to fund most of the rest of the marina cost.
Poe said the apartments, which will be built atop a parking garage to elevate the housing above the flood plain, should be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2013. He said the project will provide at least 300 construction jobs.
The apartments will rent for $625 to $1,400 a month. The building will cost about $20 million, with the construction loan provided by Harris Bank of Chicago, Poe said.
Housing construction beyond the first building will be driven by market demand. But Poe has predicted that a second apartment building should follow fairly soon.
The long-range plan calls for more than 1,000 dwellings on the site over the next decade, including two condominium towers, along with ground-level commercial space for several restaurants, shops and offices as well as extensive park space.
Poe’s group has agreed with the Army Corps of Engineers not to build in several areas that may have archeological significance.
The RiverPark place architects are K. Norman Berry of Louisville and Goody Clancy of Boston.
Other Poe partners are accountant Nolen Allen and his family, investor Mike Ehrler and his family and the family of the late businessman Clyde Ensor.
By: Devin Katayama • WFPL news • December 5, 2011
Developers are breaking ground on Louisville’s RiverPark Place project after years of delay. Project leaders say the development of the mixed-use community will roll out in phases over the next decade and will depend on market demand.
On Monday, Mayor Greg Fischer joined developer Steve Poe (pictured) who announced the first phase of the revitalized waterfront project located north of NuLu or the East Market District.
“I think this is quickly going to become one of the hot spots in the city,” said Fischer.
Construction has now begun on 150 boat slips expected to be finished by next April and 166 apartments expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2013. The cost of phase one is $25 million.
The decision to proceed with the project is based on new financial partnerships as well as interest in Louisville’s downtown area from renters, said Poe.
“In the Louisville market I believe that the occupancy rate right now is around 96.5 percent for upscale apartments,” he said.
Poe is close. Downtown’s rental occupancy is around 93 percent, which is higher than it’s been in nearly a decade, according to data from Louisville Downtown Management District.
Condo sales have not had the same consistency, which may be why Poe said he’ll likely test the condo market later next year.
“We think ultimately sometime next summer we’ll probably test the condo market to see if that’s coming back and then we may start condo building the following year,” Poe said.
The 40-acre project includes a mixed-use community of retail stores, restaurants and office space, which will be developed over the next ten to twelve years depending on market demand, Poe said.
By: Bill Francis • WDRB News • December 5, 2011
It has been a long time coming, but construction is finally underway on a private development along Louisville’s waterfront.
RiverPark Place is finally being built. For decades city leaders have talked about re-developing the area along the Ohio River at Towhead Island just east of Waterfront Park.
The 2008 recession put the project on hold. Even on a dreary day like Monday in Louisville, dredging work is underway. By spring there will be a marina with room for 150 boat slips.
The first phase of the project will also include 166 upscale apartments.
“Apartment occupancy in Louisville is currently at ninety-six-and-a-half percent,” says RiverPark Place developer Steve Poe, “so building good quality rental housing in the downtown area makes a lot of sense right now and we are able to obtain financing on those types of projects.”
Poe has partnered with an Indianapolis investment company to get the project moving again.
He says the one to three bedroom apartments will rent between $750 and $1,300 a month. They will be ready for occupancy during the first quarter of 2013.
Poe says if the market continues to improve, then a second phase of the project will move forward. “We’ll build condos in the future,” he says, “this project is 40 acres so it will take ten to twelve years to build.”
Poe says right now developers will focus on rental housing, and as the market continues to come back as projected, and demand returns, they plan to move into building condominiums on the property.
The developers will also construct a pathway that will connect Waterfront Park on the west side with Beargrass Creek on the east side, allowing walkers and bikers access to the waterfront and its views along the property.
Poe says the project is expected to create at least 300 much-needed local construction jobs.
“We have people working on the marina right now,” he says. “We will break ground on the apartments this week. So for the next 15 months, we are going to put a lot of people to work.”
Poe adds if things go as planned, the project will move into the second phase and those construction workers will continue to be on the job.
The sale and rental of the boat slips will help pay for the construction of the apartments. Poe says if the development goes as planned, it could eventually include restaurants and some smaller retail stores.
Construction Begins On Long-Delayed Project
By: Lexi Scheen • WLKY News • December 5, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It’s been seven years in the making, but a major construction project in downtown Louisville is finally breaking ground.The site at RiverPark Place looks like a bare construction site, but the ground has been broken on what Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and developers say is going to be a 40-acre multimillion dollar mixed-use community near downtown and the new Big Four Bridge.
“This is how cities grow and this is how great cities grow,” Fischer said.
A new marina with 150 state of the art boat slips as well as 166 upscale loft apartments at RiverPark Place are finally under construction. The project also includes a 3,000-foot promenade connecting Waterfront Park to Beargrass Creek.
“The marina and promenade will be open hopefully April 1 of next year, and hopefully we’ll have the first apartments ready to live in during the first quarter of 2013,” said developer Steve Poe.
The plan originated in 2004 with $38 million worth of deposits on condos and boat slips. It was put on hold in 2008 because of the economy.
Now, according to the Downtown Management District, almost 70 percent of the central business district’s condos have sold and most of those that haven’t are being rented.
RiverPark Place is starting with apartments ranging in price from $750 to $1,300 a month.
Originally, the project was to start with condos and we’ve changed that to build apartments so that we can build product that the market demands, and right now they’re demanding apartments,” Poe said.
Working closely with Waterfront Development, officials plan to add on-site restaurants, retail shops, office space and more over the next 10 to 12 years.
“You’re going to be able to walk. You’re going to be able to live, boat, eat, walk to a UofL game, pretty darn good,” Fischer said.
Officials are still looking into a few more things to draw more people to downtown living.
“We do need a department store, a grocery store as well. The closest grocery store is just five minutes away, so it’s not like, ‘Oh my gosh it’s 20 minutes away,’ but we’re working on those from a city development standpoint. It’s going to take some time, but it’s certainly on Downtown Development Corporation’s radar screen,” Fischer said.
Many downtown living areas told WLKY their business has picked up with the rejuvenation of downtown. Fischer said he expects RiverPark Place to be a hot spot once it’s completed.
By Kevin Eigelbach • The Courier Journal • December 2, 2011
The long-delayed RiverPark Place development has come to life in recent weeks, with developer Poe Companies LLC starting work on a 149-slip marina just south of Towhead Island on the Ohio River.
On Dec. 5, the company plans to break ground on a 166-unit apartment complex adjacent to the marina, a project that will include elevators and under-building parking, president and CEO Steve Poe said.
The marina and apartment complex represent $25 million in new investment, not including the $16 million the company already has spent on the project for permits, plans and site development, Poe said.
“The timing is perfect for new upscale apartments in the city, especially at this location,” he said.
As Business First reported in its Nov. 25 issue, occupancy rates for Louisville apartments are as high as they have been in years, and the market for sales of apartment complexes is more active than it has been since the 1980s.
Poe Cos. is acting as general contractor for the RiverPark Place project and is developing the property with local and out-of-town partners. Funding is being provided by Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank, Poe said.
Part of master plan created years ago
The RiverPark project is part of a master development plan originally created in the 1980s for the property’s owner, the non-profit Waterfront Development Corp.
The site struck city officials as a natural place for a residential marina development close to downtown, said Waterfront Development Corp. executive director David Karem.
With Towhead Island forming a natural breakwater, the site had served for many years as the home of Louisville Municipal Harbor, a low-tech marina for pleasure boats, he said.
Preparations for site development began in the early days of former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson’s administration, Karem said. Abramson secured almost $4 million in funds to move a railroad line that ran through the property, he said.
In 2004, when Poe Cos. won the bid to develop the 40 acres just west of Eva Bandman Park along River Road, Poe agreed to spend a year studying similar waterfront developments across the country.
The research culminated in a design for a mixed-use community by Boston-based Goody, Clancy & Associates Inc. that called for more than 600 condominiums, including units in two, 16-story towers that would sell for $199,000 to $1.5 million apiece.
The community also would include 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 65 loft apartments.
After spending about 18 months securing approval for the plan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Poe began pre-selling condominiums and marina slips. With the market for condominiums on fire, by August 2007 he had accumulated deposits on 38 condominiums.
Credit crunch halts project
But as Poe prepared to start construction in October 2007, the credit markets froze and Poe Cos. couldn’t get a construction loan, he said.
He had assumed the development of the 40-acre site would take as long as a decade, including a lull in construction, he said, but he didn’t expect the lull to happen right at the start.
The delay prompted a revision in the plan. With no banks willing to lend money for condominium construction, but with banks more than willing to lend money for apartment complex construction, Poe decided to build apartments instead.
The new plan’s initial phase calls for the construction of the marina; two four-story apartment buildings that together will have about 300 units; and two eight-story towers that will have about 200 condominiums and about 30,000 square feet of retail space.
The 16-story high-rises would be built in a future phase of the development on a different site from the original plan, Poe said.
He plans to complete the marina by April 1 and the first apartment building by the first quarter of 2013.
Poe said he plans to start building the second apartment building near the end of 2012. He plans to build the two condominium towers based on demand.
He believes the demand for condominiums from potential owners is strong, but he’s not sure about the availability of credit.
First phase is investment of up to $120 million
The first phase, which includes the marina, the apartments and the two towers, involves an investment of as much as $120 million.
But plans call for the 40-acre site to eventually have as many as 2,000 housing units, up to 100,000 square feet of retail space and 150,000 square feet of office space, he said.
Waterfront Development Corp. officials like that the planned wide sidewalks of the Poe development will link with those in Waterfront Park. They also are glad to see the project finally get off the ground.
“We knew it would have to be done in stages,” said deputy director Mike Kimmel. “Getting the marina and some substantial residential (housing) in there is a huge kickoff. We’re getting the bang we had hoped to get.”
From zero to $45 million
Louisville-based Poe Companies LLC went from starting $75 million in projects in 2008 to starting none in 2009 or 2010.
But this year, the developer plans to start construction on about $45 million worth of projects, president and CEO Steve Poe said.
The projects include a marina and an apartment building as part of the RiverPark Place development on River Road. But they also include apartment complexes in Bullitt County and in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville.
The Buillitt County project, The Reserve at Thomas Glen Apartments, is a 192-unit complex planned for property owned by attorney Tom Givhan in Shepherdsville. The project is a partnership that includes Givhan, Poe Cos. and the project contractor, Abel Construction Co. Inc.
It’s expected to cost $14 million and is being funded with a loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Poe said.
He expects construction to be complete in 15 months.
Also this year, Poe Cos. started and completed a 28-unit apartment complex, Grinstead Place, on Grinstead Drive next to Louisville Collegiate School, a $3.5 million project. Poe expected tenants to start moving in this month.
Louisville-based Poe Companies LLC’s partners in RiverPark Place are Indianapolis-based REI Real Estate Services LLC and three Louisville families: the Mike Ehrler family, the Nolen Allen family and the family of the late Clyde Ensor. The Ehrler, Allen and Ensor families will become passive partners as the project is developed, Poe Cos. president and CEO Steve Poe said.
Poe Cos. has partnered with REI on other projects, including the development of the Louisville Downtown Marriott.
By Sheldon S. Shafer • firstname.lastname@example.org • October 4, 2011
After more than three years of sitting idle waiting for the economy to turn around, work is resuming on the RiverPark Place housing and marina project off River Road just upriver from Waterfront Park.
Financing has been secured to finish work on the 149-slip marina and construction will resume immediately, said lead partner Steve Poe. His group is developing the mixed-use project at the 40-acre site that city and waterfront officials have envisioned developing for two decades.
“We still believe in the project,” Poe said.
A new partner from Indiana is joining Poe’s group in the development. An Indianapolis-based, real estate investment and management company named REI plans to become a 50 percent stakeholder in the venture, Poe said.
It intends to buy up the interest of Poe’s other longtime local partners — investor Mike Ehrler and his family; accountant Nolen Allen and his family; and the family of the late businessman Clyde Ensor.
REI was a partner with Poe in the construction of the Louisville Downtown Marriott and also in the SpringHill Suites, also downtown.
Poe’s group, River Partners LLC, shelved plans to develop RiverPark Place in early 2008 amid the recession that squeezed lending for large commercial projects.
Much of the last year has been spent updating the Army Corps of Engineers construction permit and the developer agreement with the Waterfront Development Corp., which gives Poe’s group lease-purchase rights of the land at the project site.
The project was shut down in early 2008 after the partners had invested $16 million, including about $7 million to start the marina.
The money went for studies and infrastructure, including a seawall, about half of the marina, pilings for elevated parking, water lines and sewers, as well as preliminary roadwork and grading.
Mayor Greg Fischer’s office has scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. Friday at the marina site to promote the resumption of work on the project.
Chris Poynter, Fischer’s spokesman, said, “This is great news, because the vision of Waterfront Park has always been to have a residential and a marina component that are now being provided.”
The marina financing includes both federal and state tax credits that were sold to U.S. Bank. The purchase of the credits is providing about $4.5 million in equity for the project. REI has agreed to furnish the $2.5 million needed to complete the marina, Poe said.
About a third of the 149 slips will be sold for $30,000 to $80,000 each, with the rest expected to be rented for $2,200 to $4,100 a year. Ten of the slips have already been sold, Poe said. He expects the slips to be available for use in April.
The income from the marina will be used to help fund construction of the planned housing, Poe said.
In addition, Poe said the new financing will pay for completion of the 16-foot wide asphalt and concrete promenade along the riverfront through the RiverPark Place site. It will complete a walkway from the Great Lawn at Waterfront Park on the downtown riverfront to Eva Bandman Park just upriver from Poe’s development.
The first phase of the housing portion of the RiverPark Place development will include 164 apartments built atop a parking structure with about 200 spaces. The apartments will range in size from one to three bedrooms and will rent for $625 to $1,400 a month.
The first housing structure will cost about $21 million. Poe said financing has not been secured but he said he does not anticipate doing so will be a problem. He predicted construction would begin by year’s end, with the first building to require 14 to 16 months to complete.
Poe said the partners plan to reopen a leasing office across River Road in late November.
Housing construction beyond the first phase is uncertain and will be driven by market demand. But Poe said a second phase with perhaps an additional 160 apartments should follow in short order.
If all goes well, Poe said RiverPark Place over the next 10 to 15 years may see development of more than 1,000 dwellings, the large majority of them condominiums. And he said the development could include restaurants and some retail and offices.
The RiverPark Place architects are K. Norman Berry of Louisville and Goody Clancy of Boston.
As an archeological concession to preservationists, Poe’s group, which signed an initial agreement to develop the site in 2004, has agreed to set aside about eight acres as a no-dig area.
Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089.
By Sheldon S. Shafer • email@example.com • November 2, 2010
The on-again-off-again RiverPark Place housing and marina project along the Ohio River is poised to resume construction in the spring after 21 12 years of inactivity, according to its backers, who say they’ve arranged new financing for it. City and waterfront officials have been pushing for development of the 40-acre riverside tract, opposite Towhead Island and just upriver from Waterfront Park, for two decades. But the latest effort – by River Partners LLC, headed by Louisville developer Steve Poe of the Poe Cos. – was shelved in early 2008, after the flagging housing market quashed plans for a $75 million bank loan for construction.
The project shutdown came after the partners had invested $17 million, mostly for studies and construction of infrastructure, including a seawall, about half of the marina, pilings for elevated parking, water lines and sewers, as well as preliminary roadwork and grading, Poe said. Poe said the partners never stopped trying to restart the project, and he noted that, “The plans have not changed.” The new financing plan includes $6.5 million in federal New Market tax credits obtained recently through the non-profit Community Ventures of Lexington, he said, noting that investors who buy the credits will receive a tax break that will, in turn , generate about $1.7 million in capital that can be applied toward RiverPark Place’s development costs.
Poe said the partners also have tentatively arranged for a $4.5 million conventional loan with a Louisville bank, which he declined to identify until the deal is signed. He predicted that would be within 90 days. Poe said the loan and tax credits combined will provide about $6.3 million that the partners will use to complete construction of the 149-slip marina, an access road to the marina, some parking, and a wide promenade along the riverfront between Waterfront and Eva Bandman parks. He said he expected construction to begin anew no later than next spring, with the marina finished by year’s end.
Poe said his group also is making progress in finding financing for the first RiverPark Place housing, a low-rise apartment building that would have about 160 units, renting for around $550 up to $1, 300 a month.
The RiverPark Place development agreement with the Waterfront Development Corp. requires the eventual construction of a minimum of 600 dwellings, an unspecified mix of apartments and condominiums, said Mike Kimmel, a waterfront agency spokesman. David Karem, executive director of the agency, said the corporation’s board of directors has been impressed with the Poe group’s persistence in pursuing the project. RiverPark Place, he said, “is the bestsite for a marina in Louisville. The location is close to downtown, very accessible for boaters and exceptionally beautiful, being adjacent to Waterfront Park.”
Poe called the riverside tract “one of the best housing sites in the Midwest.” Poe said the marina slips will sell for $40,000 to $75,000. Before the project was shut down, about 50 of the slips were secured with deposits; all but about 20 asked for, and received, refunds. The partners plan to start marketing the marina again in early November. The partners also had refunded deposits on about 70 planned condominiums, units selling for $139,000 to $750,OOO. Poe said, adding that those sales Poe said those sales efforts will resume in the spring. He expressed optimism that work on the first 160-unit apartment building could begin in 2011, with some of the units available for occupancy in 2012.
Poe said the developers won’t commit to building any condominiums until the housing market rights itself. Poe’s partners are investor Mike Ehrler and his family; accountant Nolen Allen and his family; and the family of the late businessman Clyde Ensor, who was an original partner. The architects are K. Norman Berry of Louisville and Goody Clancy of Boston. The city and the waterfront agency, which owns the land, first designated the property near Towhead Island for development around 1990. The city spent millions of dollars relocating River Road and a railroad and closed Thruston Park to provide land for the development. An initial group called Falls Harbor tried unsuccessfully for years to develop the site but they never were able to secure financing.
The effort of Poe’s group, which signed an initial agreement to develop the site in 2004, was stalled for several years by archeological digs that uncovered some prehistoric human remains and artifacts. The developers since have set aside about eight acres as a no-dig area in deference to the remains. The development agreement, which Karem said will have to be modified to include new deadlines, requires that the Poe group restore the
historic Paget House on the site, probably as a community room or sales office.
Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089.
By Sheldon S. Shafer
The first of what eventually will be hundreds of new condominiums across from Towhead Island just downriver from Beargrass Creek should be ready for occupancy early next summer, according to its developers.
Mike Miller, chief financial officer for the Poe Cos., which is the major partner for the planned RiverPark Place, said yesterday that preliminary work — including installation of utilities and other infrastructure — has been completed, so major construction can begin.
A $10 million investment from the partners covered the preliminary work, he said, adding that National City Bank has agreed to be the lead lender on a $75 million loan sought to cover the remaining cost of the first phase of development.
He declined to say how much of the loan National City will provide, but said the bank has agreed to line up other lenders to complete a syndication to provide the full $75 million construction loan.
“We don’t see any issues in getting this (the loan) done,” Miller said.
Bank officials confirmed the financing arrangement. The initial phase at the 42-acre site will include the first of two 16-story condo towers with about 15,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and the first of four, five-story residential buildings. The two buildings will have a total of 150 condos, selling for $129,000 to $1.5 million for two tower penthouse units. The first phase also is to contain a 144-slip marina, selling for up to $60,000; it will be the largest on the Ohio River in this area.
The partners opened a 10,000- square-foot sales office on the south side of River Road near the site last October. So far, 85 of the condos have been secured with reservations, the developers said. Miller said the total value of those units is about $40 million and that the reservations are now being converted into contracts to purchase.
Steve Eggers, who lives in eastern Louisville with his wife, Kathie, recently secured a condo on the fifth floor of the first tower, a unit costing about $400,000. He said he expects to move in 2009.
“We’re classic empty nesters,” he said. “The kids have grown up and moved out. We’re trying to downsize.” He said he “likes the idea of being on the river in a park-like setting. The view should really be spectacular.”
Forty-three boat slips in a planned marina have also been reserved.
Although Miller maintained that work on the development has never slowed down, the partners have had to confront several issues, including the reburial of the remains of several dozen ancient American Indians that were excavated on the site, and a court dispute over two parcels of land needed for the project.
Miller said the remains were “relocated in accordance with all regulations,” and the partners have now negotiated a “clean title” to the disputed land.
Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089.
By Sheldon S. Shafer
The stone and brick facade of the historic Heigold House, which has inscriptions dating to the Civil War, is being moved from the riverfront to a spot on nearby Frankfort Avenue.
Edwards Moving & Rigging of Simpsonville has begun preparations to move the 70,000-pound structure that is 26 feet high and 35 feet wide. It probably will be moved next week to a temporary spot and then to a permanent site on Frankfort by early summer, officials said.
“Whenever you have a solid masonry structure with no supporting walls or roof to tie everything together, it’s different,” company president Mark Edwards said.
“But we have moved structures similar to this, and we think we can do it without any problems.”
The two-story facade has stood for two generations off River Road near the Louisville Municipal Boat Harbor. The area where it stands is being developed as the $200 million RiverPark Place housing project by the Poe Cos.
The Heigold facade is a riverside landmark and sits just west of another historic structure, the Paget House, which is intact and will be incorporated into RiverPark Place.
The Waterfront Development Corp., which oversees riverfront revitalization efforts, is using a $530,000 federal grant to move the Heigold facade and to widen about 300 feet of Frankfort Avenue south of River Road from two to four lanes. The facade will rest in the median of the new four-lane section of Frankfort adjacent to the Sea Ray of Louisville boat dealership.
The facade will serve as an entryway to the Butchertown neighborhood.
The neighborhood’s association, which recommended the relocation of the structure, has a logo featuring the Heigold facade, President Jim Segrest said.
The facade’s new site will “indicate that you are going into a historic district. It says all kinds of things about Butchertown and the early people who came here, especially those who were immigrants, and it reflects their desire to respect their nationalism while being Americans,” he said.
According to the Encyclopedia of Louisville, Christian Heigold, a German immigrant and stonecutter, came to Louisville before 1850.
He built a home near the river in an area called the Point near what’s now Butchertown. It was erected around the time of the Civil War. Heigold carved into the stone facade patriotic inscriptions and busts of some notable Americans, including one of George Washington. Heigold died in 1865.
The city bought the house in 1953 to expand a dump. Louisville Mayor Charles Farnsley ensured that the facade was saved and in 1955 had it moved to its current location at what was then Thruston Park, across from Towhead Island.
Clinton Deckard, the waterfront project manager, said Edwards Moving is an expert in relocating and salvaging historic properties.
The facade’s foundation has been dug out and the structure braced.
A hydraulic jack will raise the facade five feet so large beams can be slipped through its lower foundation and four self-propelled dollies will be put under it.
“It’s like putting four little remote-control cars under each corner” of the structure, Edwards said.
The dollies will then slowly move the structure several hundred yards to a nearby Waterfront Park parking lot to await transfer to Frankfort Avenue.
Before it can be moved to its final resting place, the short stretch of Frankfort will be widened to four lanes near River Road and a sewer line will be put in, Deckard said.
The 150-year-old stone and brick facade of the Heigold House began its journey yesterday to a new location with help of four large self-propelled dollies and wood platforms.
The facade, which has been a fixture off River Road near Towhead Island since 1955, will become a signature entrance to Butchertown once its move to nearby Frankfort Avenue is complete.
Edwards Moving & Rigging of Simpsonville moved the facade a short distance to the west yesterday, where it will sit until some power lines are moved.
The facade will then be moved a bit farther west to a temporary spot in a nearby Waterfront Park parking lot.
The facade will probably move to its new home on Frankfort just south of River Road this summer.
Housing, marina slated near Towhead Island
Sheldon S. Shafer
Ground will be broken next Friday for the $200 million RiverPark Place between River Road and the Ohio River near Towhead Island.
The Army Corps of Engineers recently approved a permit for the project just upriver from Waterfront Park.
The permit clears the way for a riverfront development that city officials first envisioned in the early 1990s. A project called FallsHarbor at the 42-acre target site fell through in 1999 after years of plan revisions.
The RiverPark Place project will feature 621 dwellings, the area’s largest Ohio River marina, and commercial, office and extensive park space.
“RiverPark Place will be a unique neighborhood on Louisville’s waterfront,” Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson said. “Our city was founded because of the Ohio River, and we have worked hard in the past decade to reclaim it.”
RiverPark Place “has been a long time in coming,” said David Karem, president of the Waterfront Development Corp., which is overseeing the project.
Steve Poe, chief executive officer of the Poe Cos., is the lead developer on the project. Other partners are Louisville businessmen Nolen Allen, Clyde Ensor and Mike Ehrler, and architect K. Norman Berry. Berry’s firm and Goody Clancy of Boston designed RiverPark Place.
The housing will be in four five-story buildings along River Road and two 16-story towers closer to the river.
Included will be 552 condominiums, both townhouses and loft units, and 69 apartments. The condos will sell for $139,000 to $1.5 million.
Since last summer, when sales began, nearly 100 of the condos have been secured by contract. And of 150 boat slips in the marina, about 40 have been sold, said Shannon Haste, RiverPark’s director of sales. Some of the slips cost as much as $65,000.
Mike Scheid, a financial adviser who lives in northeastern Jefferson County, has made a down payment on a $359,000 condo on the fifth floor of one of the towers and also secured a $30,000 boat slip. He and his family, who enjoy boating, may keep their home and use the condo for summers and weekend getaways, he said.
The ground floors in the six buildings will have total of 40,000 square feet of commercial space, including a fitness center, probably two restaurants and five to eight shops. There will also be about 12,000 square feet of office space.
Eric Schreiner, the Poe Cos.’ president of construction and development, said the marina will probably be completed by late summer.
One of the towers and two of the buildings along River Road will be completed in fall 2008. The other three buildings are slated to be finished in late 2009.
A wide walkway will be developed near the river’s edge through RiverPark Place and connect with Waterfront Park to the west.
To elevate the housing out of the flood plain, the buildings will be constructed on a huge platform, 12 feet above River Road. About 800 spaces for parking will be under the platform, with another 800 spaces above ground.
The $200 million financing “is expected to be locked up in four to six weeks and won’t be a problem,” primarily because of the swift advance sales, Schreiner said.
The development agreement with the city calls for the partners to pay the city 4 percent of the proceeds of all condo sales and 4 percent from the sale of the boat slips in return for use of the city-owned land. The partners eventually plan to buy the site, Schreiner said.