Located directly across the street from the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Elena Flats was built as a part of city’s transformation into a vibrant urban center in the decade following the devastating Great Fire of 1901. Today, this stretch of Duval Street is characterized by a few large historic churches, soup kitchens, one-way streets and surface parking lots.
100 years ago, this section of downtown was a rooming house district, just east of Hemming Park, with names such as The Girard, Hotel Seneca, The Elsline and The Grenada. Looked down on today, districts such as this were essential for sustaining economic growth as their buildings provided residents with rooms at low prices, easy access to work, neighborhoods with stores, bars, restaurants, and clubs for association with friends and recreation.
While most of this district was demolished decades ago, the long abandoned Elena Flats building still stands and will be transformed into luxury apartment housing over the next few months. When complete, the former 22-room rooming house will feature four, high-end, 1,750 square-foot apartment units, each with its own private porch. Former City Councilman Bill Bishop will be the architect of record. Plans call for the stablization and restoration of the exterior as the first phase. Here’s a “before” look at the daunting task at hand: A tour inside the walls of the abandoned Elena Flats building.
Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at firstname.lastname@example.org