Wayside Finds Prominent Space for Shelter

Wayside Christian Mission found the ideal property for its plan to expand its homeless services, and it’s getting a mixed reaction.

Wayside, which sold off its East Market St. property more than a year ago for about $5 million, vowing to move its operations and perhaps build on Jefferson Street, never really followed through on that plan. Instead, it began shopping for an existing building downtown that would meet its needs. It originally settled on the old Mercy High School building on East Broadway.

But neighbors, led by the Original Highlands Neighborhood Association, put up a fight there, hiring attorneys and holding public hearings, sending a message that no, they didn’t want a new homeless shelter in the neighborhood. And today those neighbors hailed the news that Wayside was the winning bidder on the Hotel Louisville property at Second and Broadway as a major victory. An e-mail sent to neighbors that read, in part, “…Awesome. Wayside is not coming to Mercy.”

Wayside bid $10 million for the 287-room hotel and said it plans to convert it into a homeless shelter for women and children. The hotel was in foreclosure, and the Wayside bid caught everyone involved off guard.

In a WHAS-TV interview, Wayside’s Nina Moseley said she had reasons for bidding such a high number, but wouldn’t disclose them.

The single bid, at least $1 million more than some observers said it was worth, was a blow to the Jefferson Community and Technical College, which had hoped to buy the building for expansion.  Let’s assume that developers along that stretch of Broadway aren’t too happy, either.

But as it stands now, the hotel will cease to operate in a few weeks and Wayside will begin moving in. Officials from Metro Government said that at most, the move will require a conditional use permit, but even that shouldn’t be a problem for Wayside. No resistance from neighbors is expected.

As for the stigma attached to a homeless shelter on Broadway, just a few blocks from new developments and across the street from a prominent college, critics like Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, who told the C-J he wanted to use eminent domain to claim the space for JCTC, seem to have been taken by surprise.

Later today, the Coalition for the Homeless will release a report on the state of homelessness in Louisville.