Unlike many construction projects, Vital Sites hasn’t had many surprises, beyond a few pleasant ones, since taking ownership of five historic and rundown houses on Broadway, said Charles Cash, president of the nonprofit’s board.
“We are lucky to have this wonderful housing stock that is so adaptable,” said Cash, who is leading an effort by preservationists to revitalize housing stock with some historic value.
Workers are trying to keep what they can of the 19th-century homes, including pocket doors, shiplap, cast-iron fireplaces, detailed door frames and wood flooring.
“We are lucky. This one has most of the original oak flooring,” Cash said from inside 1207 E. Broadway.
As Insider Louisville previously reported, Vital Sites is rehabilitating the houses, which range from 1,200 square feet to 1,600 square feet, and will sell them as workforce housing later this year. Vital Sites has not decided what it will sell the homes for and is working to secure rehabilitation tax credits that Cash said they hope to pass on to the buyers.
Vital Sites is hosting a hard hat tour of the homes on Saturday, March 3. The homes are still at least two months away from completion and in various stages of the construction process. While one was being drywalled Thursday afternoon, two others were still stripped down. All the houses will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
“Vital Sites is trying to think about the whole preservation question in our community,” Cash said, adding that the nonprofit wants to get into neighborhoods early to save houses with preservation value that could otherwise be torn down. “That’s the opportunity right now in those areas that are in transition.”
The five houses on Broadway were actually slated for demolition before Edwards Cos., which is developing a large high-end apartment complex at Broadway and Baxter Avenue, came to an agreement with the city and residents that they would not include them in the development. The original owner also agreed to donate the houses to Vital Sites. The deal was struck amid concerns about a lack of affordable housing in the city in general and in up-and-coming neighborhoods in particular.
“We want to make the rehabilitation of buildings be a positive part of that change” in neighborhoods, he said.
Those interested in touring the houses are asked to meet at 9:30 a.m. at 1122 Rogers St. for light refreshments. Cash and project manager Gregg Rochman will make brief comments about the project at 9:45 a.m. before walking to the houses on Broadway for the tour. Guests are asked to RSVP at [email protected]