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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.