State Street is seeing new development in multiple blocks, even some outside the Tax Increment Financing district.

One of the largest developments that will be ready for occupancy soon is Armory Lofts. That project is outside the TIF district in the 1000 block of State Street and will be ready for occupancy July 1, according to owner/developer David Garvin Jr.

Nearby, at 1044 State St., Chris Abend and partners Andrew Cole and Mark Cole are planning to open a bar. 

And the 600 block of State Street also has planned new businesses. Jake Simic, who owns the Brickyard Cafe, will open a special events space at 601 State St. Across the street, James Jackson will open a hair salon. Both are within the TIF district, as is a mixed-use development planned by Phoenix Enterprises at First Avenue and State Street.

Garvin has been on the job nearly every day since beginning his conversion of the old National Guard Armory into loft apartments. Visitors will find him in coveralls and safety goggles, doing whatever is needed. He was helping drywall crews last week.

He talks about the project like he’s preparing a child to leave for college, taking steps to have more sound insulation than usual between apartments, trying to capture views with his placement of new windows and keeping the touches that make the spaces feel like industrial lofts. There are some partially and completely exposed brick walls, tall ceilings with exposed duct work and pipes, stainless countertops and other touches unlike other residential spaces in the community.

Last weekend, Garvin let some of the many people who have called him about the place in for a sneak peek. He has signed two leases.

There are 20 one-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 600 square feet to 800 square feet. Pre-occupancy leases will be $735 to $885 a month, depending on location and size. Units may have washers and dryers, and water, sewer and trash pickup are included, but renters are responsible for electricity and cable. 

“Literally everybody who has come in here has said they want to be here,” he said. “I just hope that continues to go as well.”

Abend, who already owns Bowling Green Pipe & Cigar at 434 E. Main St. with Andrew Cole, is interested in promoting downtown as a whole.

The partners are still developing their concept for the bar, which will be named 1044 State.

“But we want it to be a meet-up place for people before they go to other downtown establishments,” Abend said. “We want to actively promote the nightlife and downtown environment, including restaurants, bars and events.”

Abend said they hope to be open and ready for business in July in the building, which has been a dog grooming salon and barbershop. The building has been polished and painted over the last few months.

Simic said he will lease almost all of the old garage space in 601 State St., which is owned by the Downtown Redevelopment Authority.

He envisions it can be used for big meetings, wedding receptions or possibly even concerts. There will be a small bar that would likely be open when there are events at SKyPAC or other places nearby. 

The facility won’t have a kitchen. Instead, items will be catered from Brickyard. When the bar is open for SKyPAC nights, Simic said he might have four or five different cold appetizers.

“I’ve always wished for a big space,” he said.

Simic said he hopes to have the facility ready to open by August and expects it could be hosting events by next year as often as once a week.

“I’ve already had some phone calls about it,” he said.

Simic plans to name the spot la Gala, which is French for party place.

Ron Murphy, executive director of the DRA, said Simic’s plans will further the DRA’s mission by helping contribute to downtown’s redevelopment.

Simic will take about 9,000 square feet of the building.

“There is about 4,000 square feet left, which we are actively working to lease,” Murphy said.

The investment in the two spaces will be about $500,000, he said.

“I think this is really going to be great for that area,” Murphy said.

The building also houses DRA’s offices, MacKenzie’s florals and Gallery 916.

Jackson left downtown about three years ago to move his pet grooming business, Adella Pet Salon, to U.S. 31-W By-Pass. Now he is coming back downtown, but this time to open a “human” salon. 

Jackson said he will continue operating the pet grooming business, where he rents space to groomers. He likely will do the same at the salon, which is adjacent to the spot where he once operated the grooming business, 622 State St. That is now Wags N Whiskers pet grooming salon.

He is leasing the new spot from Mike Thomas, who used to have a printing shop there.

Jackson hopes to get the business up and running in June. In addition to the full-service salon, he may add an old-fashioned barbershop in the building.

“I love the downtown square and the idea of ... people being downtown,” Jackson said about why he decided to open another business here. “I think the area has already seen a lot of progress and will see even more with the continued popularity of the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center and other things. It’s a prime location.”

Detailed development plans are still being worked through for the Phoenix project, according to attorney Lanna Martin Kilgore. That three-story building will have 60,000 square feet with one-, two- and some three-bedroom apartments on the top two floors.

The bottom floor, in addition to commercial space, will have a restaurant with an outdoor dining area.

“They don’t yet have a restaurant yet, but have some ideas of what they would like to see,” Kilgore said.

Kilgore said the investment group recently acquired another nearby property that will enhance their ability to layout the project, providing better entrances and improved landscaping of the project.

Three buildings have been removed from the site but construction won’t begin until after the development plan is approved and a building permit is issued.

“It’s a beautiful design that fits well with the TIF guidelines,” she said.

— Robyn L. Minor covers business, environment, transportation and other issues for the Daily News. Follow her at or visit

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