Derby Oaks panoramic
Several units are ready for rent as renovations continue at Vesta Derby Oaks. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

Arcadia Apartments, a South End development dating to the 1950s that had become a dilapidated eyesore, got new life last year when it was purchased by Middleburg Real Estate Partners and renamed Vesta Derby Oaks. There’s still a long way to go, but that new life is taking shape.

Many of the buildings in the 418-unit complex, located in the Taylor Berry neighborhood, were abandoned. A few dozen renters had stayed on, but many of them didn’t have hot water, air-conditioning or other amenities necessary for a safe and healthy lifestyle.

What Virginia-based Middleburg has done is come in and begun completely renovating the property. The old gas heating systems are being replaced with modern HVAC systems, new plumbing is involved, the internal structures are being stripped to the bare bones and then rebuilt entirely, and new roofing and siding are being installed.

New sidewalks are being poured and landscaping improvements are in the plans as well.

But this isn’t gentrification – David Allison, Regional Manager for Middleburg, said Vesta Derby Oaks will be exclusively “workforce housing,” predominantly two-bedroom units with a few single- and three-bedroom apartments.

The apartment community will be family- and pet-friendly, with plenty of green space. Grilling areas and a dog park are planned. To further pull it into the neighborhood, the name change reflects an ode to nearby Churchill Downs. Vesta, meanwhile, is the name of the virgin goddess of home and hearth from Roman mythology.

Two-bedroom apartments will cost $725 monthly, while one-bedrooms will be $650 and three-bedrooms $825.

Derby Oaks before after
Some of the apartment buildings have been renovated, while others are in the process. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

He said 20 units are now complete and ready for habitation, and 11 original tenants have been placed in those apartments. The goal is to keep as many of the previous tenants as possible. Many of those who can’t afford to stay – rent prices in Arcadia Apartments were between $400 and $500 – are getting assistance from Middleburg to find new housing.

However, Allison said Middleburg is trying to facilitate as many residents as possible so they can stay.

A look at a model apartment reveals a small but efficient and clean space with new wood floors, a large kitchen and two medium to small bedrooms, ideal for a couple or small family. Cabinetry and appliances are pristine, and an events room is available to residents in the leasing office.

In addition, Middleburg is offering $100 off select units to police, fire and other emergency responders, as well as teachers, as part of a “local heroes” program.

Allison said about a dozen more units will be ready to rent toward the end of July, with others being rolled out in phases over the next few months. Many of the buildings in the 24-acre development look almost new, with buildings side in muted blues and greens. Others, however, still are virtually in ruins.

But the goal is to bring the post-Korean War housing – Allison said he believes it was originally built to attract soldiers returning from the war – back to life. Middleburg bought the complex for $9 million with a planned investment of $16 million in renovations. The real estate company also is receiving tax incentives from the city.

“It’s exciting to see the transformation of Vesta Derby Oaks’ two dozen acres and 418 apartment homes and the fulfillment of the vision for the property,” Allison said. “The effect of this transformation will be extensive, contributing to the vibrancy and economic growth of the entire neighborhood even beyond Derby Oaks.”

This post has been updated to reflect that the Arcadia Apartments are located in the South End.

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Kevin Gibson
Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies. Email Kevin at [email protected]