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Historic ‘Castle’ Back on Market Near 18th and Vine

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By Kevin Collison

A plan to renovate the historic City Workhouse Castle into a boutique hotel has fallen through and it’s now part of a 20-acre group of properties that’s on the market near the 18th & Vine Jazz District.

“There are few sites that close to downtown with that kind of land assembly, it’s a rare opportunity,” said Audrey Navarro of Clemons Real Estate, the broker, representing the owner, UrbanAmerica.

“It would be ideal for low- and high-density residential as well as retail, entertainment and office.”

Robert Farmer, senior vice president of development for UrbanAmerica, the property owner, said the location still would be good for a hotel and entertainment uses as well as residential.

An earlier plan to redevelop the old Castle as a boutique hotel and event space has fallen through.

The former City Workhouse Castle, an imposing limestone structure built in 1897, was once used to incarcerate petty criminals and vagrants. The vacant and deteriorated building is located at 2001 Vine St.

The living conditions in the old building were considered atrocious almost as soon as it opened. It was converted to city storage and office space in the early 20th Century. The building was finally shuttered and essentially abandoned in 1972.

Today, it’s located adjacent to a burgeoning section of the 18th and Vine District. Two other historic limestone buildings across the street recently reopened as the 2000 Vine retail and office development including the Vine Street Brewery.

Also nearby, One Nine Vine, an 80-unit, six-story apartment building at 19th and Vine, had a grand opening last week.

In early 2022, UrbanAmerica announced it had teamed with the Eighteenth and Vine Redevelopment Corp. on a proposal to renovate the old Castle into a 60-room boutique hotel and event space.

The UrbanAmerica site covers almost 20 acres near the 18th and Vine Jazz District. (Map from Clemons Real Estate)

They also proposed building about 60, three-bedroom houses on vacant property immediately east.

The developers had prepared preliminary design plans and had been approved for a $1.2 million grant from the Central City Economic Development sales tax board to help finance the hotel proposal.

Farmer said economic factors, including rising interest rates and construction costs, derailed that earlier proposal.

“We still think the best use for the Castle redevelopment is an entertainment venue or hospitality,” he said. “We also think the area is ripe for residential.

“If another developer comes along, we’re willing to sell, but we’re still interested in redeveloping it with a partner.”

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