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Germination in Germantown
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This article appeared in the May 2012 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.

I will admit to spending my first week in the neighborhood driving past rows of shotgun houses before I could efficiently recognize my own.

But in time I’ve come to recognize why GT, as I’ve affectionately come to know it, is hot — hot for buying, renting and doing business. In the first three months of 2012, 15 homes sold in Germantown, up from 10 in the first three months of 2011. “People are adamant about the area, adamant about the lifestyle,” says Louisville realtor Joe Hayden. And, he says, people are buying and renting in Germantown (and neighboring Schnitzelburg) for a few reasons.

1. Price point: Homes are affordable ($97,000 average), and renters get more space and yard for their money.

2. Stylish shotguns: Homeowners are renovating, and increasing the area’s appeal.

3. Location: As gas prices rise, people want to walk and bike more. Again, Germantown is next to the Highlands.

4. Community: Germantown is close-knit.

Recent college graduate and new nurse Ellie Cundiff just bought her avocado-green Bungalow with a porch swing in Germantown. “I decided to live in Germantown after I realized that my dream of living in the Highlands was financially unrealistic unless I was willing to settle for a small condo with little to no land,” she says.

She’s not alone. Longtime resident Dan McMahon, who runs his Danny Mac’s Pizza out of an AMVETS Post on South Shelby Street in Schnitzelburg, started the Germantown/Schnitzelburg Facebook group in 2010 to share historic photos of the area, issue crime alerts and rally for fund-raisers. Currently “liked” by more than 7,500 people, the page “turned into something powerful,” McMahon says. It has been used to organize help for tornado victims, find folks to clean back yards for the elderly and even replace a kid’s stolen bike. McMahon says Facebook has united the community, like a church would have done when German immigrants began settling there in the 1850s. The neighborhood is now a place where young urban farmers and artists mesh with residents who have lived there for more than 70 years.

Bars such as the Four Pegs and Nachbar, and restaurants Hammerheads and Eiderdown, have sauntered into the neighborhood in recent years. Former Nachbar bartender Daniel Duncan opened Greenhaus, a beer/wine/plant/furniture shop on Preston Street in Schnitzelburg, and he says he has watched an influx of artists, hipsters, recent college grads and naturalists pour into the ’hood. “The people are here, and now businesses are starting to build up around them,” he says. “East Market might be where artists show their work, but Germantown is where they make it.”

Photo: courtesy of ActiveRain Real Estate Network

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