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Wellspring Inc. plans affordable housing in the Highlands

Source: Louisville Business First By: Eleanor Tolbert

A local nonprofit has new plans for an apartment complex in the Highlands.

Emergent Capital Group, based in Nashville, Tennessee, recently sold the Douglass Manor apartments in the Highlands to Wellspring Inc.

Wellspring, which opened in Louisville in 1982, offers quality affordable housing and other support services for people with physical and mental disabilities. It intends to convert the apartments into affordable housing units for people with disabilities living at 30% of the area median income, said Kathy Dobbins, CEO of Wellspring.

“The need for affordable housing is sky high in our community,” Dobbins said. “If we want to be a warm and welcoming community, we need affordable housing. We need to help people who grew up in this community, who have families in this community, have deep ties to this community, be able to live in our community.”

The apartments, located at 2045 Douglass Blvd., sold for $3.83 million, according to the deed. Adam Rothberg, managing member of Emergent Capital Group, said the firm purchased the property in 2018 after it had been renovated.

“I was not contemplating selling Douglass Manor, but after learning about Wellspring, their mission, and the countless individuals they serve, it became something I was truly happy to be a part of,” Rothberg said in the release.

It contains 27 units comprised of 20 one-bedrooms, six studios and one two-bedroom apartment. At the time of the sale, the building had a 90% occupancy rate, Rothberg said.

The apartment complex is not currently classified as affordable, but Dobbins said the rental rates are not far above the requirements for affordable housing.

The current tenants will need to relocate, but Dobbins said they qualify for the federal Uniform Relocation Act. According to the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development, tenants relocating can receive funds for moving expenses and up to $7,200 in rental assistance. Renters may also be eligible to use those funds for a down payment on a permanent home.

Wellspring received $13 million to spend on its Neighborhood Housing Project. The investment is made up of funds from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act through both the Louisville Metro Government and the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund, as well as The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and the James Graham Brown Foundation.

The project entails providing affordable, quality housing for 50 people in scattered sites around the city. With the addition of these units, the nonprofit now has housing for 47 of the 50 people.

With the funds, Wellspring will be upgrading the property. Dobbins said the property will receive a new roof, new heating system, rehabbed bathrooms and kitchens, and updated painting and plastering. The 27 units will be reduced to 24 as well.

The goal is to have residents start moving in by the end of this year or beginning of next.

Emergent Capital Group has other properties in the Louisville market. Rothberg said it owns Baringer Manor, located at 2100 Baringer Ave.

With the sale of Douglass Manor, it also has plans to stay here.

“This property was a great asset to have owned, located in a great neighborhood and in a great city,” Rothberg said. “Louisville has been and continues to be a wonderful market. The city is great, the people there are top-notch, and even after this transaction, my feet are still firmly grounded in Louisville.”