LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Contractors are working to turn former classrooms at a vacant Louisville school into low-income senior housing.

The hope is to turn around a neighborhood in need by fixing up the vacant Jacob School at Wheeler and Strader Avenues. Senior citizens will soon move into the one- and two-bedroom apartments.

"Affordable senior housing is in critical demand in cities across the county, not limited to Louisville," said Bywater Development Group CEO David Dodson. "So this is addressing just the tip of the iceberg of the need out here."

But re-purposing the building isn't easy. It was built in the 1930s and sat dormant for years. Neighbors say it became an incubator for crime, trash, drug deals, rowdy teens and the homeless.

On a tour of the site, Dodson said the work has been extensive.

"These are the original windows that have all been removed -- sash-by-sash taken offsite -- and rehung on a restored jam," he said.

And the apartments are almost finished with updates like new energy efficient systems, new finishes and new cabinets. Crews even had to clean years of graffiti off the walls.

The Bywater Group won a $2 million grant from the city of Louisville along with historic and affordable housing tax credits to fund the $12 million project.

City leaders hope taking away the blight makes the neighborhood safer.

"Someone is fixing up their house because of it," Metro Councilwoman Marianne Butler said. "Another person got a landlord to do some fix ups, so I think it will be a domino effect. It's going to be fabulous."

The old school must keep some of its roots, including the gym where kids gathered decades ago for sports and assemblies. Historic preservation rules forced contractors not to change the footprint of the space. So apartments have been built on the stage and the open space will become a giant common area like a huge living room for seniors who will call the school home.

Jimmy Mann is considering a move to the school from his West Louisville home. "I've been sick lately and stuff this house is just too big for me," Mann explained. The apartments will also help him stay on a budget with his fixed income. Rent for the 57 apartments starts at $380 a month.

Units should be available in six to eight weeks. Residents must meet certain low-income requirements.

For more information, contact Beacon Property Management at (502) 634-9830, or CLICK HERE.

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