Bob and Ashley Eidson immersed themselves in downtown life when they bought a 150-year-old house on West Sixth Street.
“From the time I was in high school, I watched that street change,” Bob said.
After college, the University of Kentucky graduate served three years in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper, then moved to California to complete an MBA.
When he moved home in 2013, he felt something was different.
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“The downtown core had gained an inertia that was magnetic,” Eidson said.
The game changer, in his view, was the Legacy Trail — a 12-mile walking, biking, interpretive trail and public art venue that begins in the East End and extends to the Kentucky Horse Park; it opened in 2010.
Bob is co-founder and CFO of Emerge Contracting. The company’s focus is on infill development and renovation in Lexington’s urban neighborhoods.
He and business partner Matt Hovekamp search for opportunities to develop and manage real estate in Central Kentucky.
“We found five lots for Smith Town Homes here on Smith Street, and then West Sixth Brewery opened six months later,” Bob said. “We had no idea that was in the works.”
In addition to Legacy Trail, Transylvania University, Fayette Park, West Sixth Brewery and County Club restaurant also are a block away.
“We think it’s a knockout location,” Bob said.
In fact, he and Ashley moved from their 3,800-square-foot house on West Sixth in January to their new two-story, 1,800-square-foot townhome at 515 Smith Street.
The transition was a smooth one for the couple.
“I’d recommend our neighborhood for anyone who is looking for a renewed urban lifestyle that mixes new hip ideas with our heritage charm we’ve come to appreciate in Lexington,” said Ashley, who works for a national mortgage company.
Bob said he likes the south end of Smith Street, in part because it is owner occupied.
“The neighbor across the street has lived there all her life,” he said. “Her father helped build Keeneland.”
Alt32, a Lexington architecture firm, was selected to design the row of five townhomes.
“They took our design objectives and designed something we couldn’t have done ourselves,” Bob said. “They nailed what we were going for.”
Smith Town Homes’ contemporary design and unconventional location on a street where assessed values range from $5,000 to $89,900 have garnered attention.
For starters, aluminum galvanized metal, brick, James Hardy fiber cement panels and steel on the exterior give the building contemporary flair. Its five terraces are positioned so that none can be seen from any of the others.
There’s also nothing fussy about the interior of the Eidsons’ townhome, which boasts 10-foot-high ceilings on the first floor and 9-foot-high ceilings on the second level.
The owners of three dogs, Bob and Ashley chose polished concrete floors on the main level and a tough laminate that looks like hardwood upstairs, where the owners’ suite and a second bedroom and full bath are located.
“I spent one and a half years repairing 130-year-old heart pine wood floors in the house we owned on West Sixth,” Bob said. “When my dogs ran on it and scratched it, it would break my heart. You can only sand those floors so many times.”
In their new townhome, the couple appreciate a floor that’s attractive, maintenance-free and indestructible.
“There’s a thermal barrier under the concrete (on the first level), so it stays about the same temperature every day, no matter what’s happening outside,” Bob said.
The open floor plan in the Eidsons’ townhome features a family room and dining room separated by a galley-style kitchen.
Ashley appreciates the openness of their new home.
“It’s great for entertaining, with easy movement between all the rooms,” she said.
From a recliner in the living room, Bob can multitask. He can be on the lookout for deliveries to the front door, monitor the dogs as they run up and down the stairs, keep an eye on food cooking in the kitchen and steaks grilling in the back yard — and watch TV.
Using his smartphone, he can lock doors, turn off lights and set the alarm.
“I feel connected to my living space. I’ve never been happier living in a space than I am in this one,” he said. “We can button up, take off and let the critter sitter take care of the animals.”
“We simply love it here,” Ashley added.
The couple also chose some upgrades that cost more initially, yet will save money over time. For example, a tankless water heater that provides hot water on demand runs on a fraction of the energy required to keep a 50-gallon drum full of hot water 24/7.
Walls are constructed with 2-by-6 studs, which are stronger and have greater insulation value than standard 2-by-4s. Spray-foam insulation was chosen because it works better than traditional fiberglass batts and also provides a better sound barrier.
“This unit scored 52 on the HERS (Home Energy Rating System Index), which means it’s about 50 percent more energy efficient than other new homes,” Bob said.