16 Projects Place Louisville Among Top Cities for Most Converted Apartment Buildings in the Past 5 Decades


There are many ways to live sustainably, but not everyone can afford to live in a brand-new green-certified home or apartment building. So why not live in an old historic building instead? An evolving trend in sustainable housing is transforming older, unused structures into residences, a great way to offer more affordable housing while also treasuring the past.

Across the country, cities have found ways to conserve development resources and answer housing demands, while still paying homage to their community’s history. In fact, a study by RENTCafé revealed that nearly 2,000 old buildings in the U.S. had been converted into apartments since the 1950s — about 800 in the last decade alone. Chicago and Philadelphia top the list with the most repurposed apartment buildings, while New York City boasts the most apartments created as a result of adaptive reuse projects.

It is especially admirable to see this trend thriving in cities like Louisville, KY, which has brought back to life quite a few old buildings relative to its size. Since the 1970s, the city of Louisville has revamped 16 deteriorating large buildings into rental housing, sharing 17th place nationally with Boston and Denver. The past five decades brought 1,811 new apartments to renters who may want to get a taste of what it’s like to live in an old school, a vintage hotel, or even a former warehouse. To learn what and where are these adaptive reuse apartment buildings in Kentucky’s largest city, we turned to data from Yardi Matrix.

Nearly 600 Louisville apartments created in the 2000s alone

The 1970s began by repurposing two older buildings that brought Louisville a cool 512 apartments. Among them was the historic 1920s Kentucky Hotel, known today as The Flats on 5th.

Then, following a sudden dip in the 1990s (just 50 units were introduced by repurposing one building), the 2000s turned out the most adaptive reuse projects. During that decade, 588 apartments were created out of six refurbished buildings, one of which was a former furniture warehouse that today goes by the name Lofts of Broadway.

The oldest residential adaptive reuse projects in Louisville

Undoubtedly, Louisville’s rich history is reflected in its architecture. To that end, some of the oldest buildings to be transformed are 1800s gems like The Germantown Mill Lofts and H. Temple Spears, as well as turn-of-the-century staples like Bradford Mills Lofts. Check out the oldest buildings in Louisville to be converted to apartment communities:

Top Oldest Buildings Converted in Louisville

Name Year Built Conversion Formerly Units
The Germantown Mill Lofts 1889 2016 Factory 189
H. Temple Spears 1890 2003 School 65
The Lofts of Broadway 1900 2005 Warehouse 83
Bradford Mills Lofts 1908 2018 Warehouse 147
St. Francis 1913 2003 Community Center 58
Brandeis 1913 1996 School 50

Louisville’s most popular conversions: former schools & hotels

With 442 conversion projects across the country, vintage factories are the most popular structures to be repurposed. However, Louisville strayed from this national trend and, instead, showcased its affinity for adapting old schools, similar to Baltimore and Indianapolis. In Louisville, in particular, 445 new units were created by repurposing 7 schools, including the former Stephen Foster Elementary School — now Stephen Foster Senior Living — and the former J.B. McFerran School, now known as H. Temple Spears.

Hotels are the second-most popular building type to be converted into residential spaces in Louisville. Here, 566 apartments were introduced by rehabilitating three former hotels: The Puritan, which was built in 1917; Kentucky Hotel — now The Flats on 5th — constructed in 1924 and the more recent Downtown Scholar House from 1960.

Unusual apartment conversion projects in Louisville

In addition to schools, hotels, warehouses and factories, Louisville has also seen its share of interesting redevelopments, such as the repurposing of the former rectory at St. Columba Catholic Campus. Built in 1949, the apartment community now goes by the name of Saint Columba Court and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2005.

Another interesting redevelopment is the St. Francis building. Originally built to serve as a YMCA back in 1913, the building is now a mixed-use Beaux Arts structure that hosts retail space and even a high school.

The commercial sector is also no stranger to repurposing existing facilities, and downtown Louisville’s inventory lends itself to growing conversion and rehabilitation projects. Clearly, Louisville is among the cities that understand the potential of old buildings and historic preservation. As we enter a new year, it will be exciting to see what other redevelopment projects cities like Louisville have planned.


RENTCafé is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States. Apartment data was provided by our sister company, Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors.

Adaptive reuse refers to reusing an existing building for a purpose other than what it was originally intended for. The study is exclusively based on apartment data related to buildings containing 50 or more units. For the purpose of this study, certain building subcategories have been grouped into a general category that encompasses them. For example, manufacturing units, mills, or breweries fall under the Factory category.

Featured image courtesy of Germantown Mill Lofts. All building photos used with expressed permission from the respective property management. RENTCafé does not grant the right for property image use.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the research and graphics presented in this article. When doing so, we ask that you credit our research by linking to RENTCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.

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