This Saturday! Peek at Portland event features eight stops showcasing Portland’s revitalization

by Terry Boyd via Insider Louisville

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Lately, you’ve likely read a lot about the transformation of Portland, and all the plans and visions.

Truth to tell, there’s a lot more going on in Portland than any media have reported.

Amid all the new plans, purchases and pioneering, there are multiple efforts in Portland that predate Gill Holland’s private initiative we told you about back in March. The rebirth of Portland dates back to Habitat for Humanity’s entre into the neighborhood back in 1985. (More about that in a post later this morning.)

This Saturday, there will be a big event, A Peek at Portland, that will give you the opportunity for a sample of the various projects completed or underway.

Peek at Portland is scheduled for 1 p .m. to 4 p.m., with tours beginning at Habitat for Humanity headquarters, 1620 Bank St., just south of Main Street.

Mint Julep Tours will provide transportation between stops, with a circulator running every 15 to 20 minutes. (Parking is available on the street and in Habitat’s lots on Columbia Street off 17th Street.)

Peek at Portland will take you to eight different projects:

Habitat for Humanity HQ at 16th and Bank streets was a former bakery.

Habitat for Humanity HQ at 16th and Bank streets was a former bakery. (Photo courtesy of Rob Locke , HfH.)

• Habitat for Humanity headquarters at 16th and Bank streets. This is the former headquarters for Taystee Bread Bakery. Habitat took over the building in 2010, with a major rehab, investing more than $2 million. Very impressive building and operation.

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Argo Network’s new headquarters at 537 N. 26th St.

• University of Louisville glass artist Che Rhodes’ home and studio at 20th and Main streets.

 Artists Dan Rhema and Susan Rhema are planning to renovate “The Hub,” a former department store at 17th and Market. Last month, the Rhemas received a $60,000 façade loan from the Louisville Metropolitan Business Development Corp to renovate the building, which runs from 1701-to-1703 W. Market St.

• Nulu-based Shine Contracting’s future headquarters at 1536 Lytle St. The space also houses renowned Louisville artistChris Radtke’s studio.

Nelligan Hall Front

Nelligan Hall

• Nelligan Hall, a former vaudeville theater at 2010 Portland St. converted into a home, concert venue and studio by artist Aaron Conaway.

• Entrepreneur/startup macher Richard Meadow’s new hacker hostel at 1518 N. 27th St. I’ve heard this is very close to opening, but haven’t visited.

• Argo Networkswhich just bought the former Masonic Lodge at 537 N. 26th St. in the commercial heart of Portland.

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The Compassion Building

• And last, but most reported on, The Compassion Building, which is the former Montgomery Street School at 250 Montgomery St. The Compassion Building will be the new headquarters for Holland’s Louisville offices of  The Group Entertainment movie and television business, as well sonaBLAST!, his music company and other operations.

And I have to say that talking with Rob Locke, Habitat for Humanity executive director, yesterday, lost in the reporting – including on Insider Louisville – is that there are many revitalization efforts going on in Portland, which you’ll see on Saturday.

In fact, the tours are sponsored both by Habitat for Humanity and by Holland’sPortland Investment Initiative.

And no question, the idea is to lure attendees into investing in Portland.

From the Peek at Portland news release:

A Peek at Portland will show visitors the energy and activity currently helping move the neighborhood forward. We invite you to consider Portland as a place to invest, a place to live, a place to work.

There will be eight locations around the neighborhood open and sharing their individual stories and opportunities: artists studios, a music venue, two homes, a center for art and healing, Habitat for Humanity’s headquarters and the Compassion Building.

Portland is a working class neighborhood with a long and storied history in Louisville. It has incredible potential for anyone with a little ingenuity and an ability to see beyond the challenges. Less than one mile from downtown, along the river Portland has a great mix of residential, commercial, and alternative spaces in a walkable, bikeable neighborhood.

The first time I talked with Gill, Aaron Conaway and consultant John Guthrie about Portland was in 2010 at the Habitat for Humanities headquarters. At the time, I didn’t get it. I thought, “This is going to take decades.”

Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time driving around Portland, and one thing I’ve noticed is that this giant neighborhood – unlike a lot of other up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Old Louisville – has a surprising amount of retail, a plus for future residents.

With the Argo deal and the news about Shine and Chris Radtke moving to Portland, you sense that in a very brief time, the transformation has taken on a momentum that is sustainable.

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