Renovations to the 800 Tower City Apartments on Fourth Street in downtown Louisville will start to wind down by the end of this year, and the complex is moving toward full occupancy
Owner Jonathan Holtzman told me he hopes to have the building and its 286 apartments 90 percent filled within the next few months.
Holtzman was in town Friday and met me inside the tower's lobby, where we discussed a second round of renovations, a new general manager and a plan for fully furnished apartments he hopes will catch fire for Louisville's corporate crowd.
Construction also continues on a new Italian restaurant, Bar Vetti, inside the apartment complex, and it should open this fall.
As one phase ends, another begins
Holtzman said he's finishing the punch lists on phase one and expects to close it out in the next few weeks. At that point, he expects to take care of the mechanics liens filed against the property by several contractors, which total a few hundred thousand dollars.
Holtzman said he was surprised the liens were filed before phase one work was completed, but he said the pay disputes have not stifled construction.
About $12 million has been invested to date in the 800, including a redesign of the apartment units and amenity spaces and the establishment of 24/7 concierge services, a new hotel-style lobby, business center, conference room, theater and the penthouse-level Sky Club and Sky Park, all as part of phase one. You can have a look at the work in the attached gallery.
Meanwhile, a smaller second phase totaling about $2 million should start in earnest in the next few months, Holtzman said. The second phase was announced in early May and will include an expansion of the pool deck area on the apartment's rooftop Sky Park, which will include additional outdoor seating for a new amenity area known as The Beach.
Holtzman's Michigan-based company, City Club Apartments, also is adding more glass railing to the balconies to bolster the panoramic views of the city, swapping out fluorescent lighting for more energy efficient LED lighting, upgrading energy and operating systems and improving the heating, cooling and hot water systems in the building.
Holtzman said it was imperative he take care of the heating and cooling issues once and for all after several tenants complained about inefficient heating this past winter. It led some residents to lash out online in a series of negative reviews.
Holtzman said at the time that some of the aging heating valves and pipes in the building failed, but the failure came during a cold snap and could not be fixed immediately because it would have forced his team to shut off the heat to the building.
Holtzman told me Friday that he anticipates much of the phase two work will be finished within 30 to 90 days after it begins because it is less of an undertaking than the first round of renovations. Moving to the second phase also should help to deal with another frequent complaint in the building about construction noise, as the second phase is less invasive from a construction standpoint.
Holtzman said he's used humor to work through some of the issues with the building and believes the 800 is on firmer footing now.
"I can laugh about it now," he said. "I used to cry and write checks."
City Club announced last week that it has begun marketing a handful of fully furnished apartments inside the 800. Holtzman believes the apartments might appeal to downtown business clientele recently relocated to Louisville by some of the city's largest companies, such as Humana Inc. and Yum Brand Inc.
City Club Apartments partnered with CORT Furniture to outfit the new apartments with furniture, bedding, bath and linens, essential kitchenware, utilities, cable and wi-fi high speed internet. Individuals can sign a six-month to one-year lease to rent a furnished apartment.
As of last week, three fully furnished apartments were ready to go, with capacity to add several more if needed.
Monthly rents will cost about $1,600 for a furnished studio, $2,050 to $2,400 for a furnished one bedroom, and $2,100 to $2,900 for a furnished two-bedroom.
That averages about $1,000 more than an unfurnished unit in the building, but Holtzman said the furnished apartments offers a new residential living option for businesspeople or homeowners in the midst of a major renovation, for instance, that will allow them to stay away from an extended stay hotel. And with utilities included, he said, it will be cheaper than living in a hotel.
The 800 also recently welcomed new leadership in the form of general manager Karen Lewis. She's a Louisville native and University of Kentucky graduate who joined the 800 team after working for nearly two years as the deputy executive director of operations for the Louisville Downtown Partnership.
Lewis returned to Louisville in late 2014 after spending years working for large real estate firms in the Washington, D.C., area. as an operations or regional manager. She has more than 25 years of experience in real estate operations and project management.