This story has been updated to note that the Rogers family donated the houses and correct the real estate firms selling the homes.
The first of five newly rehabilitated houses along Broadway just hit the market after about 11 months of renovation work, and construction on the others is expected to wrap up in early October.
“It’s been fun to find the original front facades and go back to those,” said Charles Cash, board chairman of Vital Sites, the nonprofit that is rehabilitating the 19th-century houses. “The building kind of gradually reveals itself.”
Each house has completely new plumbing, electrical, mechanical and insulation, as well has had some original flooring, trim work and other features restored. The windows were either restored or replaced.
“It is fully up to modern standards,” Cash said.
The first house, 1205 E. Broadway, was listed this week by Givhan and Mitchell Realtors. The listing price for the 1,275-square-foot, two-bedroom house — $258,000 — may give some sticker shock, however, following the nonprofit leadership’s previous comments about affordability.
Back in August 2016 before Preservation Louisville merged with Vital Sites, Cash told Louisville Metro Council in a written statement that the nonprofit would pursue funding that would “include an affordability component to make the sale of these dwellings available to individuals” earning 80 percent of area median income, or $57,200 for a family of four.
The statement was given to the council amid concerns that Ohio developer Edwards Cos. was not providing enough workforce housing in return for millions in local tax incentives for a luxury apartment project next door to Broadway Row; the five houses were donated by the Rogers family as part of an effort to help appease residents’ apprehension about Edwards’ project.
However, because Broadway Row was not awarded funds from the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Cash told Insider, the nonprofit decided to list them at market value, a price too high for that family of four. Vital Sites did not apply for any other funding, he said.
Cash later said there is not other affordable funding pool available for single-family, preservation-minded projects that are not rentals.
“I think there was a lot of confusion, and there still is a lot of confusion about what those houses can be sold for,” said Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, D-4, who not on Metro Council when Edwards Cos. was awarded the incentives and Cash issued the statement about affordability. “It was my understanding that they may very well not” be workforce housing.
Metro Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9, who has been a vocal champion for affordable and workforce housing, expressed his disappointment after finding out that the houses would be listed at a market rate last week.
“While I am happy to see these homes preserved, it’s disappointing that they will be sold at market rate and not made available to lower-income working families,” Hollander said in an emailed statement. “We relied on that group’s promise to Metro Council to pursue funding sources which would make them affordable. Those funding sources are available, but they require, among other things, limiting the profit a developer takes from a project.”
While Cash never previously said what the prices could be, he has stated during the renovation process that the houses would be affordably priced.
“It was our original intention to target these more affordable, but that would require some form of subsidy,” Cash said Wednesday. “I will also say, we are not trying to be an affordable housing expert or provider. There are plenty of places in town that do a good job in that. … Our mission really is about preserving our historic fabric and neighborhoods. We are not trying to be New Directions.”
The project did receive state historic tax credits, a value of roughly $18,000 to $20,000 per house. Cash said Vital Sites will work with the future homebuyers to determine if those credits can be passed on to the buyer. Otherwise, Vital Sites will look to sell the tax credits to the bank to help pay off its construction loans.
While he didn’t have a final cost number, Cash told Insider that the sale of all five houses is expected to clear its construction loan debt. Additional money from the home sales will go into Vital Sites’ revolving loan fund for future projects. Vital Sites is working with Louisville Metro Government on a couple of other potential projects that will have the “opportunity to have an impact on a neighborhood scale,” he said.
When deciding what to list a property at, real estate agents look at raising values, new development and planned development in a neighborhood, among other factors.
“Obviously, the market over there since 2015, the market has changed quite a lot, and there is a lot of good things happening in that neighborhood. There is a lot of investment going on in the area,” Cash said. Vital Sites’ goal is “to make change in neighborhoods.”
All five houses will have a small fenced yard with off-street parking, but three have larger master bedrooms with nicer en-suite bathrooms and walk-in closet spaces, Cash said. The houses are a few hundred square feet more.
“The others are actually a little bit larger, so they will be a little bit more” once listed, he said.
The house at 1207 E. Broadway is expected to be listed anytime now for a starting price of $265,000, Cash said, adding, “It is the one with the most detail.”
Kentucky Select will list 1207 E. Broadway.