As the recession continues on, revitalization of Downtown Louisville will likely be carried on the backs of small and medium-sized development projects. One such scheme, years in planning, will finally get off the ground, possibly by the end of the year. Developer John Gray has been planning to convert the historic Bacon-Debrovy Building on East Market Street into a mix of retail and residential, but now with financing in hand from Central Bank and plans submitted to Metro Louisville, his project is looking more like reality.
Broken Sidewalk toured the building in May and spoke with Gray about his plans for the four-story cast-iron, brick, and limestone building. The oldest portion of the structure dates back before the Civil War, but the building was expanded in late 19th century. Gray is planning about 16 residential condos ranging in price from $240,000 to $300,000 above two retail spaces along Market Street. About 12 parking spots will be added in the basement, accessed by a ramp in the back of the property. Design work was handled by architect Gant Jones.
Intricate cast-iron columns currently covered along the sidewalk will be restored and the limestone facade above will be cleaned. A new cornice and pediment, long missing from the facade, will be added to bring back the structure’s former glory. Windows will be punched into the structural east party wall—a move Gray said was approved by an engineer—and several terraces on the top floor will be added. The east and north facades will be covered in vertical bands of EIFS (synthetic stucco) above a yet-to-be-determined base. Gray said he is currently looking at several materials including metal panels, hardy board, and concrete panels.
Funding from Central Bank allowed Gray to bring the building out of foreclosure and move forward with the project. He has already submitted plans to the Downtown Development Review Overlay and will meet with the committee soon. Additional loans from Metro Louisville including a facade loan and financing from the Downtown Housing Fund are also being sought.
“The first thing we want to do is get the power turned on and the building cleaned up,” Gray said. “Then we can get started with construction, or rather deconstruction at first.” While much of the wood on the ceiling and floor will require removal, Gray is salvaging it all for use inside the units. He also hopes to register the project with LEED for sustainable architecture.
Pending review, Gray believes construction could begin within a month, marking a bright spot amid a local development scene peppered with stalled or cancelled projects.