The Past of RiverPark Placeby RiverPark PlaceThe current location of RiverPark Place – historically known as “The Point” – has long been a prosperous area and home to many upper income socialites and successful entrepreneurs. Starting in the 1840s, well-heeled residents of New Orleans moved to Louisville for the summer to escape the Louisiana heat. These movers and shakers gathered at The Point on the Ohio River and built mansions, relaxing on their verandas and balconies to enjoy the cool river breezes. So many New Orleans residents built summer homes in Louisville that The Point’s Fulton Street became known as “Frenchmen’s Row” because of all the French-speaking residents that lived there.Today, RiverPark Place carries on that distinction of elegance, relaxation and luxury. Nestled amid trees and greenery along the peaceful water, the new EdgeWater luxury condominiums harken back to an earlier time of summer mansions, boating, sumptuous meals and prominent friendships – a time when residents kept an exclusive and lively social calendar.In the past, beautiful ladies in silk dresses strolled beside the river, fanning themselves with delicate lace fans. They carried parasols under the sun and watched river boats paddle through the crisp water. The Point was always a place to see and be seen, a chance to catch the eye of an influential new acquaintance. As ladies took in the sights and sounds of a stylish river life, well-bred gentlemen and entrepreneurs enjoyed cigars and afternoons on grand boats. Residing in homes at this fashionable and cultured location was the reward for financial success and business savvy. Today, the address represents similar accomplishments.One of the lovely old mansions, Padget House, still stands at 1562 Fulton Street and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The restoration of Padget House is part of the RiverPark Place master plan — the elegant home will serve as part of a new restaurant that will have upscale pub food, light dinner and custom cocktails, the name of which will soon be announced.In a vintage article in the Courier Journal under Women’s News, the author states that the Padget House “has always been known as ‘Mansion House,’ one of Louisville’s finest architectural landmarks.” The Padget House is the last remaining element of this once-gracious residential neighborhood, and its architecture shows a New Orleans influence that is not found anywhere else in Louisville.Paget House and, therefore, RiverPark Place have a long and distinguished history. Margaret Wright Paget, who purchased the original elegant house in 1838, is the great-great niece of Gen. George Washington, America’s first president. Washington himself is a descendant of King Henry II of England. The original structure dates back to the 1780s, and a five bay Georgian Style masonry addition was built in 1838 that included a unique ornamental cast iron balcony that spanned the front of the building. The romance and lineage of Padget House lends depth and meaning to the beautiful grounds and affluent amenities of RiverPark Place and the EdgeWater condominiums.In the 1840s, the mansion that stood next door was the Heigold House, completed in 1853. Its ornate, detailed façade with the faces of early American leaders engraved on it was the handiwork of immigrant stonemason Christopher Heigold. Also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Heigold House façade now stands at a welcoming intersection on Frankfort Avenue.Residences at The Point – both past and present – share in the sophistication and lively energy of affluent business leaders and wealthy women who long ago brought the charm and excitement of New Orleans to this gracious neighborhood. Today, the glamor and excitement of The Big Easy can still be felt in the lush lawns, extraordinary buildings, and upscale life at RiverPark Place.Please join Insider Louisville and RiverPark Place on July 29, 2015 for a fun, social meetup around the new resort amenity area at RiverPark Place.Insiders will gather around poolside starting at 4:30 p.m. Light appetizers will be served and a cash bar with beer and wine will be available. Representatives from Poe Properties will be on hand to showcase the EdgeWater condo tower plans.After you have enjoyed this poolside meetup you can take the path to Waterfront Park for Waterfront Wednesday and truly get a taste for river life. This meetup is not one to miss.
Bringing a 40-acre, $1 billion-plus commercial/residential project to fruition that will alter the landscape and lifestyle of Louisville’s riverfront requires top talent. Rock stars of design and development, if you will. In the coming months, we’re going to feature the “Rock Stars of RiverPark Place” to help you get to know some of the brilliant and dedicated people behind the project.
David Spillane spent his childhood near the water in Ireland. No matter where he has lived since then, he’s never been far from it. In fact, as president of Goody Clancy in Boston and principal for the firm’s planning and urban design practice, Spillane has built his career on a passion for design that transforms waterfronts.
“We’ve worked a lot of places and done a lot of things, but the most exciting projects for me are waterfront projects,” he said. His firm has completed waterfront projects “all the way from Vermont to Texas.”
This lifelong passion is why serving as lead architect for RiverPark Place is an ideal fit for his talents. It also means Louisville is incredibly lucky to have him on board.
Fascinated by design since he was a child, Spillane earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from University College Dublin (Ireland) and a master’s degree from Harvard University. His work has included planning in Mississippi and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, replacing an aging interstate highway in Hartford, Conn., and redefining Boston’s Fort Point Channel waterfront.
His designs have been recognized with more than a dozen national awards from the American Institute of Architects, the American Planning Association, the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Waterfront Center, including the 2013 American Planning Association’s “National Planning Excellence Award for a Firm.”
As an extension of his affection for cities’ waterfronts, Spillane serves on the board of directors for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, where he has been an active participant in promoting public access to a cleaner and more vibrant Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay. He has also served as a member of Boston’s Municipal Harbor Plan Advisory Committee and is a design advisor to the Capitol Center Commission in Providence, R.I.
Despite his experience with waterfronts across the country, Spillane believes there is always more to learn. That’s why he and the RiverPark team traveled to Boston, Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Canada, to study what makes each of their waterfronts so successful.
“In all those cities, we saw principles of what it takes to create a great waterfront — providing public access along the water’s edge, creating public amenities with a mix of uses,” said Spillane. “Residential housing is a huge part of that, and so are open spaces and restaurants that draw people to the area who don’t live there. Also, they each provide water access for small boats, canoes and kayaks and have the ability to host events and other activities.”
As a result of these fact-finding trips, Spillane said he and the RiverPark team have been able to incorporate all of the very best elements from each city’s waterfront they visited, one of which is density.
“When Steve Poe invited us to be part of the team and the city started this project, I think that the kind of density that was envisioned was far less than what’s happening now,” said Spillane. “The density being envisioned now is like what we saw in Boston, Vancouver and Portland. It’s essential to RiverPark and what this project can ultimately become to the city. We’re seeing all around the country more and more interest in urban living and urban environments, where you can walk from your front door to a restaurant or a park or a marina and you don’t have to drive. Those are some the benefits we get from density.”
Spillane is proud that he’s had a hand in a project that brings people together in such a transformative way. “It’s a place that invites other people in, who don’t specifically live there, to have access to the restaurants on the water’s edge. I think the marina adds a whole other dimension to life, providing the ability to get out on the river.
“When you mix all those ingredients together — the mix of uses, walk-able areas, density, public access and access to the water, you have all the ingredients of a great waterfront. This is the vision we talked about from the very beginning — a place which is vibrant and active and dense.”
Spillane believes that an important part of the project, one that’s easy to overlook, is the way parking is being incorporated out of sight.
“Parking is below the building, and that creates far better views and access to the waterfront and the river. I think that’s really exciting,” he said. “There was a lot of very careful attention in design to maintain those views of the waterfront from as many units as possible, both the ones built to date, and the ones in the future.”
Though RiverPark is in its early stages, Spillane believes it already has lots of momentum. As it attracts more people and new amenities, it’s going to become even more compelling over time, he added.
“Louisville is a really vital place, and it’s become even more vital since I started with the project,” Spillane said. “At that time, Waterfront Park had just opened. I remember being in the offices of the Waterfront Development Corp., seeing the pictures of the wall of what it had been just a few years before where it was primarily industrial, and how quickly it has transformed into a major part of the city’s shared public space.”
Spillane added the he thinks the transformation of Louisville’s waterfront is an amazing story. “It’s one of the great waterfront transformations nationally, and it’s a model for many other communities. RiverPark is an incredibly important part of that story.”