By: Bill Francis • WDRB News • December 5, 2011

It has been a long time coming, but construction is finally underway on a private development along Louisville’s waterfront.

RiverPark Place is finally being built. For decades city leaders have talked about re-developing the area along the Ohio River at Towhead Island just east of Waterfront Park.

The 2008 recession put the project on hold. Even on a dreary day like Monday in Louisville, dredging work is underway. By spring there will be a marina with room for 150 boat slips.

The first phase of the project will also include 166 upscale apartments.

“Apartment occupancy in Louisville is currently at ninety-six-and-a-half percent,” says RiverPark Place developer Steve Poe, “so building good quality rental housing in the downtown area makes a lot of sense right now and we are able to obtain financing on those types of projects.”

Poe has partnered with an Indianapolis investment company to get the project moving again.

He says the one to three bedroom apartments will rent between $750 and $1,300 a month. They will be ready for occupancy during the first quarter of 2013.

Poe says if the market continues to improve, then a second phase of the project will move forward. “We’ll build condos in the future,” he says, “this project is 40 acres so it will take ten to twelve years to build.”

Poe says right now developers will focus on rental housing, and as the market continues to come back as projected, and demand returns, they plan to move into building condominiums on the property.

The developers will also construct a pathway that will connect Waterfront Park on the west side with Beargrass Creek on the east side, allowing walkers and bikers access to the waterfront and its views along the property.

Poe says the project is expected to create at least 300 much-needed local construction jobs.

“We have people working on the marina right now,” he says. “We will break ground on the apartments this week.  So for the next 15 months, we are going to put a lot of people to work.”

Poe adds if things go as planned, the project will move into the second phase and those construction workers will continue to be on the job.

The sale and rental of the boat slips will help pay for the construction of the apartments. Poe says if the development goes as planned, it could eventually include restaurants and some smaller retail stores.