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    Downtown Dividends
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    This article appeared in the May 2012 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit

    Bob Holt, a 47-year-old lifelong South End resident, has picked out his new 700-square-foot studio condo at the Mercantile Gallery Lofts on Market Street, and it's just a matter of paperwork before he can move in.

    He doesn’t want to say how much he’s paying (a similar one-bedroom is listed on the Mercantile’s website for $189,000) but is eager to share photos of the sleek apartment, with polished-concrete floors and wooden beams along the high ceilings. The kitchen has granite countertops, and the floor-to-ceiling windows allow light to flood the living room. It’s a good deal smaller than his current three-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot house near Iroquois Park, but he thinks it’ll be more than enough space. Besides, he wants to be out “where the action is.” “Where’s the hottest spot in town right now? It’s downtown,” Holt says. “I think that the Main Street area in particular, down by the arena, is becoming a much more person-friendly atmosphere.”

    He considered other buildings downtown but liked the open floor plan offered at five-year-old Mercantile, a project by developer Todd Blue that kept the facades of its original two historic buildings (built in 1880 and 1933) with ultramodern interiors. The building also offers a common lounge with flat-panel TVs and a pool table, a private outdoor courtyard, and a fitness center. Holt is the director of permitting at Nugent Sand, located on River Road close to downtown, and his move will cut his workday commute from 25 minutes to about five. (“That’s more sleeping for me,” he says with a chuckle.) The condo offers parking for purchase, but he’s going to wait and see if he really needs it before shelling out. For now, Holt says, street parking is plentiful. The only thing really missing, he says, is grocery shopping. “I would like to see a market-style place where I can go around and get a gallon of milk or a six-pack of beer,” he says.

    According to the Greater Louisville Association of Realtors, 86 units sold in downtown last year for an average price of $135,035. A decade ago, so few condos were sold or for sale in downtown Louisville that they were grouped with Old Louisville, Shively, Butchertown and the West End. “I work in the early stages of the construction industry, so we see more product going out, and that tells us things are starting to pick up some,” Holt says. “I’m getting in incredibly cheap. Five years from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a 15 to 20 percent increase in value.”

    And, of course, he can spend his weekends doing something besides mowing the lawn.

    Photo: Courtesy of Lofts of Broadway

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