A couple weeks ago we told you about a development on First Street between Main and Market Streets that didn’t seem to be going anywhere fast. We sat down with developer, entrepreneur, and Broken Sidewalk reader Dan Borsch to uncover the secrets behind the renovation project. While the three-story, 8,100 square foot brick and limestone building may appear quiet from the outside, Dan explains the inside has been completely gutted and cleaned in preparation for the renovation project.
Inside the building were the remnants of a poorly maintained apartment house littered with debris and decades of grime. Now, the interior is refreshingly open and clear. During the cleaning, the structure’s massive timber columns and joists were revealed in all their 19th century glory. The building dates to the 1860s when it was used as a bourbon and other spirit warehouse. The wooden interior structure was over-engineered to support the weight of countless bourbon barrels and an original iron lift that hoisted the heavy barrels to the third floor still is present inside. Because it was used as a warehouse, the interior was designed to maximize space, leaving high ceilings and wide open spaces that Borsch believes will make excellent apartments or condos. His company, JEB Investments, plans five residential units on the upper two floors with retail use slated for the first floor and massive double-height basement.
Renovation of the building under design direction of Joseph & Joseph Architects was scheduled to begin a while ago, but the company began renovation work first on another property on East Broadway near Rubel Avenue. JEB Investments has transformed the once dilapidated one-story brick structure into a retail property that houses a music venue and record label called Skull Alley. Earlier this year, Dan also purchased the struggling Juanita’s Burger Boy in Old Louisville on Burnett Street and has been helping keep the neighborhood landmark diner up and running as a local hangout and meeting spot. He has already improved and cleaned the Juanita’s property and is working to establish a garden across Brook Street on a vacant lot.
Next in line for full renovation in the First Street building. Borsch is working with engineers to stabilize the nearly 150 year old structure and hopes to leave exposed many of the original timber beams inside. Plans call for completely replacing the ground level floor to improve its strength and potentially connect to the basement where he envisions a chic underground night-spot just a block from the arena. The project will hopefully begin moving again early next year as JEB’s current projects come to fruition. With the arena proceeding at full speed, its good to see another development stay on course towards creating a real, living district on East Main.
- What’s Up On First Street? (Broken Sidewalk)