RiverPark Place residents enjoy the energy of living downtown

Ralph and Joan Ross pose with the RiverPark Place docks behind them.

There’s an unending parade off the balcony at Ralph and Jane Ross’s home.

“We never get tired of it,” said Ralph, speaking of the constant barge traffic on the Ohio River. “It’s actually a wet interstate highway.”

The Rosses are among the renters living at RiverPark Place. Their two-bedroom apartment looks out across the site where the new condo tower and restaurant are to go in, the marina beyond and farther on, the river with tugboats maneuvering loads in both directions.

View of Thuder Over Louisville from the Ross' balcony.

The Rosses say they have a terrific view for Thunder Over Louisville, and had a bird’s-eye view of the triathlon this year.

They moved to Louisville in January 2012 from Jacksonville, Fla., when Ralph took the job as district director for the Small Business Administration. They initially took a third-floor walkup apartment in The Highlands, but over time, the stairs became too much, they said.

“We wanted to live downtown,” Jane said. “We looked at all the properties, but there really wasn’t that much available.” But all the time they were living in The Highlands, she was riding her bike downtown and watching the Poe Companies’ development going up.

They had taken a beating on the sale of their Florida home and weren’t eager to dive into home ownership again with Ralph’s retirement not too far out of sight, so they opted to rent. They plan to retire in a home they own in Omaha, Neb.

Twin granddaughters Lucy, left, and Evie Roane, age 2, ride in a "surrey with the fringe on top" down on the waterfront.

Jane’s daughter’s family also has moved to Louisville, where she’s pursing a PhD at the University of Louisville. Jane drives her twin 2-year-old and 4-year-old grandchildren to school three times a week.

“They love to come to Grandma’s house and do bubbles off the balcony,” she said.

Married just three years, in Florida they had merged her 3,000-square-foot household and his 1,800-square-foot condo.

“We thought that was really downsizing,” Ralph said with a laugh. “The real issue here was whether we could live in a 1,000-square-foot apartment.”

But they’ve managed. Ralph had to give up his Barcalounger, but they’ve gained an uber-friendly Wheaten terrier named Izzy, who believes everyone in the park wants to pet her. It helps that they live in a park.

Though people think there’s no shopping nearby, the Crescent Hill Kroger and CVS on Brownsboro Road are only about a mile and a quarter away. “People don’t realize how close they are,” Jane said.

A planned Omni Hotel development that would include an upscale grocery store downtownreportedly is “on track,” though developers sought to delay a deadline associated with that project.

The Rosses moved in before the Big Four Bridge opened, though it has opened up an array of opportunities for them.

“It’s like the paseo in Madrid,” said Jane, who has traveled extensively in Europe. “People come out to walk the bridge. You see old people, you see teenagers, you kind of see everybody. You can walk there and watch the sun set.”

They love to walk across to the Indiana side for dinner – it’s about 8,000 steps on her Fitbit step counter, Jane said – and by the time you get back, you’ve walked off part of the calories!

They enjoyed being able to walk to a restaurant even when they lived in The Highlands.

“If we walk to a restaurant and share a bottle of wine between us with dinner, no one’s driving,” Ralph pointed out.

The Rosses also have bicycled extensively in Europe and enjoy taking their bikes across the bridge and connecting up with the Ohio River Greenway or taking the Beargrass Creek Trail to Cherokee Park.

During the recent Centennial Festival of Riverboats, they walked down to ride the Belle of Louisville. They joined hundreds, if not thousands in the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown bike ride to Iroquois Park.

“Louisville’s a town that has a fun public life,” Ralph said. “It’s a town that likes to do things together. People like to gather down on the river for any old reason at all.”