St. Francis High School, located in the Beaux-Arts former YMCA building Downtown on the corner of Third Street and Broadway, has been dreaming of an expanded campus for over a decade. Since purchasing their structure in March 1999 (the school was founded in the building in 1977), St. Francis has also acquired adjacent parcels, including a two-story brick parking garage at 659 South Third Street. Following a new master plan created in 2010 by nationally-acclaimed, San Antonio-based Lake/Flato architects, St. Francis has applied to demolish the garage. Current plans call for a parking lot at the site until funds are raised to build a multipurpose arts and athletics complex.
The parking garage, one of the oldest in the city, includes first floor retail space with one level of parking above accessed via a brick-paved ramp. There has been no retail in the building for many years and the facade has been covered with whimsical black-and-white murals depicting city life in Louisville (see below). The demolition is being stayed for the standard 30 days because of the building’s age.
A concept plan designed by Lake/Flato shows a large-multipurpose building including a gymnasium taking the garage’s place. Architect Matt Morris, partner at Lake/Flato, said the gym space can be easily converted to handle large-scale arts festivals and other uses. “We’re strong believers in buildings taking on more than one purpose,” he said over the phone today. Plans also include infilling an existing courtyard with a black-box theater and production space and retrofitting the circa 1913 YMCA building. A new outdoor courtyard would be created off Third Street accessed via a dramatic entry stair in the new structure.
According to Lake/Flato’s web site:
Lake/Flato was hired to analyze the school’s existing facilities and develop a master plan to address issues with their existing building and propose strategies for significantly increasing arts and athletics spaces.
One goal that quickly surfaced was that any addition or renovation would need to both preserve and sustain the relative and collegiate energy that currently exists within the school.
A public meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, August 15 at 8:30 a.m. at the Metro Development Center, 444 South Fifth Street, Conference Room 101 to review the demolition, parking plans, and proposed new building. Officials from St. Francis could not be reached by press time.