The Healthy House project, located at 1641 Portland Ave., has been in the works since 2014. | Courtesy of Louisville Grows
The Healthy House project, located at 1641 Portland Ave., has been in the works since 2014. | Courtesy of Louisville Grows

After more than two years of planning, workers could break ground on the inaugural 21st Century Shotgun house as early as this month.

Developer Gill Holland came up with the idea for the 21st Century Shotgun Project, which reimagines a style of home that populates many of Louisville’s urban neighborhoods. The aim is to partner nonprofit and for-profit businesses to design and build a unique take on the shotgun house.

“If I can keep making connections between philanthropists and nonprofits and architects …that would be pretty exciting,” Holland said, noting that 16 shotguns have been designed.

The first 21st Century Shotgun to come to fruition is called “Healthy House” and is located at 1641 Portland Ave. The 2,050-square-foot shotgun will be home to offices for the urban agriculture and education nonprofit Louisville Grows.

“It’s really unreal for an organization that’s as young as we are …to have this opportunity where we can have a home at the Healthy House and a headquarters where we can have the opportunity to reach many more people,” said director Valerie Magnuson. Louisville Grows started in 2009.

Currently, Louisville Grows’ nine staff members operate out of offices in The Anchor Building, which Holland owns. The nonprofit also runs a community garden just down the street from there at 2500 Montgomery St., property that Holland also owns.

In addition to offices, Healthy House will include a classroom, manufacturing kitchen, green roof, garden and water-catching system. Louisville Grows will offer beekeeping and food processing classes there, among other educational programs. Groups also will be able to use space in the Healthy House for meetings and to teach classes such as nutrition and yoga, Magnuson said.

“We want to be able to share the wealth,” she said.

This plan shows how Healthy House will be laid out once built. | Courtesy of Louisville Grows
This plan shows how Healthy House will be laid out once built. | Courtesy of Louisville Grows

Magnuson said she wants the house to show people how they can replicate green initiatives at their own homes, even if space is limited.

Healthy House was designed by Louisville-based architecture firm Arrasmith Judd Rapp Chovan Inc., and Louisville company Realm Construction Co. will construct the mixed-use building.

“It’s a very interesting project. We have done a number of design iterations to make it exactly what Valerie and the people there at Louisville Grows want,” said Bill Receveur, founder of Realm Construction. “It’s going to be a real showplace for the neighborhood. …It will be a real credit to the neighborhood.”

The funding for the project, which will cost $200,000, has been lined up since 2014. Christina Lee Brown and the Owsley Brown II Family Foundation agreed to fully fund the project, but it’s still taken a while to come together.

“Sometimes when you are the first new kind of something, it takes longer. The city’s got to figure out what you are,” Holland said.

The project is going through Metro Planning and Design’s category 3 plan approval process, Receveur said, which can take longer.

“That involves a lot of input from the community and all the typical approval agencies like MSD and traffic engineering,” he said. “The people in Portland are being naturally very deliberate about the process for development and improving the area.”

Louisville Grows must host a public hearing, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. June 15, before it receives final approvals. After that, Receuver said he is hopeful that Realm Construction will be able to break ground late this month.

Because of how long it’s taken to get started, Magnuson said people are likely skeptical about it happening, but she’s heard only positive feedback about the project.

“I think people are just really excited about it,” she said.

The project has received a formal letter of support from Portland Now, the neighborhood association.

The Portland neighborhood is the perfect location for Healthy House, Magnuson said, because it is home to pay-what-you-can restaurant The Table; the nonprofit New Roots that addresses food insecurity via Fresh Stop Markets; nonprofit dyeScape that operates small-scale dye gardens; and the Lots of Food garden.

“There is already so much potential,” Magnuson said.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]