Historic Photo of Whiskey Row Lofts
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Located on the corner of Second Street and Main Street, the Whiskey Row Lofts mixed-use project is still moving ahead despite the economic meltdown. The development will include retail space on two floors, Washington Street and Main Street, offices on the second floor, 23 apartments just above that, topped off with four penthouse condos with excellent views of the Ohio River, downtown, and the adjacent arena.

Grand Stair at Whiskey Row Lofts
Grand Stair at Whiskey Row Lofts. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Two historic buildings, formerly the headquarters for the L&N railroad and the Burwinkle-Hendershot store, will be renovated by partners Bill Weyland, of City Properties Group, and siblings Valle and Stephen Jones, owners of the two buildings. We went inside the 130-year-old L&N Building to see what the project has in store and came away with a couple dozen photos of a gilded-age structure with nearly all its details still intact.

The Whiskey Row Lofts partners hope to fill the retail space with restaurants and entertainment venues that will compliment the new arena and create a “vibrant” and living community. Bearno’s Pizza will retain its current corner location. Offices on the second floor will serve as a sound buffer for the residential units above. Construction is still expected to begin this Spring with about a 15 month construction schedule that will allow for a grand opening in the Summer of 2010.

We went through the entire building to reveal its secrets as a gilded-age office building to an artists’ colony to the vacant masterpiece it is today. We’ll take you through the building in text and photos below.

Whiskey Row Lofts, 2nd Street Facade
Whiskey Row Lofts, 2nd Street Facade. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Apartments in the building will range in size from 600 to 1,400 square feet with priced anywhere from $650 to $1,550 per month depending on size and location in the building. The four penthouse units will be on the top of the building and will represent the extent of new construction on site. Prices for the units haven’t been set.

Inside Whiskey Row Lofts
Inside Whiskey Row Lofts. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

The first floor of the L&N Building is partially below the sidewalk housing Bearno’s Pizza. The second floor is just above and accessed from limestone steps leading into a grand foyer. The main architectural feature of the building is the grand wooden staircase that stretches from the basement to the very top of the structure. Above, you can see the central corridor and part of the stair that will house offices after the renovation.

Original Tile Floor at Whiskey Row Lofts
Inside the building, a colorful yet somewhat damaged tile floor lines the central corridor. The two structures comprising the Whiskey Row Lofts contain about 100,000 square feet and will offer a varied living and working experience depending on where in the structures you find yourself. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Inside Whiskey Row Lofts
Here’s one more view of the central office corridor on the second floor as seen from the stair. The ceiling heights in the building are gigantic; stretching upwards of 18 feet. The door seen above is a single door and is around 13 feet tall. Everything is the building is over-sized, from the extra-wide handrails on the grand stair to the enormous windows in every apartment. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Inside Whiskey Row Lofts
Here’s one more view of the foyer to the second floor showing just how high the ceilings are. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Inside Whiskey Row Lofts
At one point in the building’s history back in the 1960s or 1970s, it served as artists’ studio space and housing. The building has remained generally untouched since the artists moved out and, as a result, many quirky details still remain (like black painted ceilings). The peeling paint and plaster seen here is really the only damage found inside the structure. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Grand Stair at Whiskey Row Lofts
Grand Stair at Whiskey Row Lofts. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Valle Jones explained that the grand stair which will lend the Whiskey Row Lofts gilded-age charm was the reason the property has taken so long to redevelop. An open staircase such as this doesn’t meet current fire codes dictating that stairwells be sealed off from the rest of the building.

The owners couldn’t bear to wall-off the stair, but have now found a solution to keep the stair open. By acquiring the adjacent Burwinkle-Hendershot Building, a second fire-proof stair can be built allowing the older stair to remain open. It has taken the group several years to assemble the property needed to build the Whiskey Row project.

Grand Stair at Whiskey Row Lofts
Several floors of apartments can be reached by climbing the grand stair. There are so many windows in the building that day-lighting is hardly necessary. The warm, soft creak of the massive steps under foot still feels solid but gives that old-world charm that can’t be built new. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

While the project is a historic renovation that will keep most of the original building components including window frames, doors, and many floors, Valle Jones said the partners are looking into making the project LEED certified, adding to Louisville’s growing number of sustainable developments. She admitted there are challenges to working with the historic side and the ‘green’ side of the building.

Historic tax credits require the building to be preserved but LEED standards dictate modern efficiency standards. The team hopes energy efficient materials and the urban mixed-use nature of the building will add to both sides of the proposal.

Giant Windows in Whiskey Row Lofts
While these windows might look average or slightly over-sized without a reference point, they are actually gigantic. The photo to the left represents a window in a typical apartment and is taller than the door sitting next to it. The windows on the right are on the second floor facing Main Street and are nearly 12 feet tall, dwarfing anyone standing next to them and flooding the room with southern light. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Future Apartment in Whiskey Row Lofts
Even the smallest apartment in the Whiskey Row Lofts at 600 square feet should take on a much larger feel with these over-sized windows and tall ceilings. Even the baseboards surrounding every room are large at just under a foot tall. This unit faces Washington Street. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Inside Whiskey Row Lofts
A few additional photos of the future apartment and office space in the building including a massive double door that will be incorporated into the project. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
View From Whiskey Row Lofts
The views from the Whiskey Row Lofts are just as great as the architecture inside. The building sits at the crossing of two of downtown’s most important roads: Main Street and Second Street. This means the wide vistas and tall buildings lining them become the backdrop for Whiskey Row’s urban living. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
View From Whiskey Row Lofts
The new plaza along Main Street that will sit in front of the arena will further open up the views. Imagine the excitement of thousands of people filling the landscaped park during special events. Proximity to such an activity center should help make living in the new apartments even more vibrant. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Former Art-House Theater
Another quirk from the L&N’s hippie days is an art-house theater still visible on the top floor. Above you can see the screen and below you can see a small rectangle above the door leading to the projection booth. The artists were careful not to harm the original building. Any addition or modification was designed to minimally impact the old building. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Interestingly, quite a bit of graffiti and old posters were strewn about the former commune. One wooden poster featured intricately drawn magic mushrooms and another in a broken frame portrayed the New Kids on the Block. Shag carpet rugs and a random mess of objects and colored lights also littered the upstairs spaces.

Overall, we can’t wait for crews to make it inside and start cleaning the place up. With the O’Shea’s restaurant under construction now next door and several other projects just a few blocks away slated to begin in the Spring as well, we could still see an influx of urban dwellers in just a couple years time even in the midst of a recession.

Future Apartment at Whiskey Row Lofts
The combination of a standard addition door compared to the windows and ceiling height shows just how large the building’s spaces are. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Future Apartment in Whiskey Row Lofts
This is our favorite spot in the building. The peeling turquoise paint and rusting crystal chandelier combined with the details of the old building bring to mind an abandoned chateau in Europe. The sunlight pouring in created a very calm and still almost timeless feel inside of the abandoned room. This unit has the best views of them all, too, so expect this one on the high-price end. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
View From Whiskey Row Lofts
Looking across to the Burwinkle-Hendershot roof shows a completely different set of views. While not a fancy 19th century headquarters, the B-H side of the property still brings 19th century details from its whiskey warehouse days including massive columns, tall ceilings, brick walls, and more huge windows. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Washington Street Side of Building
More of the Burwinkle-Hendershot building including a spot where a new condo could potentially be built. A portion of the B-H building’s Washington Street level will be converted to indoor parking for tenants. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Light Well at the Whiskey Row Lofts
Another hidden feature of the L&N Building is its interior light well. The opening is visible from the grand stair and brings massive amounts of daylight into the middle of the block. Eventually, windows will be opened into the B-H building next door to further maximize light. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Attic Space May Allow Lofted Apartments
The top floor of the L&N Building has a large attic space adding six or seven feet to the ceiling height. While the room below will one day house an elevator for the development, other top-floor apartments may feature lofted spaces adding a modern twist to the historic building. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
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Branden Klayko

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