Austin’s Inn Place, a bed & breakfast located on First Street near Breckinridge Street, hopes to see the area flourish again. Located in SoBro on the border with Old Louisville, Austin’s occupies two Victorian houses dating to the 1880s. The Inn began operating during Derby 2005 with 8 guest rooms able to serve 16 guests. Proprietor’s and realtor’s Mary & Tom Austin purchased the houses in 2004 at auction. They saw the properties as an investment and a way to contribute to the redevelopment of Downtown and Old Louisville. Since then, they have been looking to push their success farther down First Street.
The area surrounding the Inn needs work, but is showing promising signs of improvement. Two houses immediately south of Austin’s Inn Place have been in desperate need of renovation. Another grand mansion once stood on a vacant parcel serving as access to the Austin’s landscaped courtyard. The house burned years ago due to neglect. A failed hotel and parking lot across the street will be home to the recently announced Downtown Scholar House. New townhomes will soon be built facing Austin’s Inn Place on First Street.
The two rooming houses to the south could one day be restored back to single family houses, or possibly condos, if the Austin’s can find investors interested in the project. They already purchased one foreclosed rooming house and have placed offers on the other. These structures have 11 or 12 rooms each, only some rooms have bathrooms and kitchens. They are in disrepair and have been a source of crime in the past.
Each house contains about 3,800 square feet and would make an enormous urban single family dwelling. Tom and Mary Austin would like to return the structures to single family use, but wonder if it’s practical to spend so much money on a house that needs so much work. They see smaller Downtown condos sell for very high rates, but don’t expect the houses to perform the same. Instead they are looking for creative solutions for the properties and are hoping to work with investors to create a new vibrant First Street.
Besides single family housing, the Austin’s have considered condos and extended stay units with an interior courtyard and carriage houses. There are zoning restrictions in place, though, that could make it difficult for any conversion other than single family use. Whatever option is found to be the most viable in the end, we hope the Austin’s find the right partner to create the rejuvenated neighborhood they envision.
- Austin’s Inn Place (Official Site)