Most Francisville residents are familiar with the Bell Telephone Company Exchange building at 17th & Poplar. The tall, skinny building stands in complete contrast to just about everything that surrounds it, and doesn’t really have a good analog around town that immediately comes to mind. For decades, the building sat vacant, and a notable work of architect John Torrey Windrim deteriorated inside and out.


Fortunately, Olive Street Properties, LLC purchased the building in 2007 and performed an adaptive reuse conversion into eight modern live/work condos. According to the developers, residents of The Exchange Lofts appreciate the original details that were preserved, like the building’s unusual windows and its many skylights.

View from the north

Closer look

With the success of the reuse of the existing building, the developers appear to have a hankering for some more action in the immediate area and are as such building a new neighbor for this wonderful old building. The Exchange Phase II will involve the construction of a new seven-story building on the long-vacant lot immediately to the east of the existing building. With architecture from Jibe Design & Architecture, the new building will offer a very different design approach than the Exchange Lofts, with the thinking that current architecture and construction standards wouldn’t be able to approach the existing building. Therefore, it makes sense to go for contrast.

The lot today

Coming soon. Contrast indeed.

The building will contain sixteen units, each of which will be 1 bedroom/1 bathroom. All of the units will have views of a central courtyard and will have use of a rooftop deck/garden space. Approvals were received last spring, with support from the neighborhood, and the developers are currently waiting for building permits to arrive. The plan is to break ground in the coming months.

We’ll clearly be keeping an eye on this project, as it represents a signature addition to one of the signature properties in Francisville. We’re pleased that it’s the same developer doing the new construction that did the first phase, as it’s a guarantee that they will do everything they can to respect the beautiful building next door. We’re really like the design of the addition, but would imagine that not everyone agrees with such a contemporary structure next to a classic structure like The Exchange. What do you think?