Much has been written in recent years about the economic challenges facing west Louisville, and they are indeed daunting. For 60-plus years, people, capital and resources have flowed out of this area to other parts of the city. From the white-flight phenomenon that began in the 1960s to the implosion of manufacturing jobs that continued into the 2000s, west Louisville has absorbed one blow after the other.
To understand the scope of this disinvestment, consider this one fact alone: In 1950, the 22 census tracts that compose west Louisville were home to more than 145,000 residents; in 2010, those same census tracts contained just over 60,000 residents.
But there are signs that the investment spigot is beginning to flow a little more westward, thanks to efforts by metro government; nonprofit organizations such as Louisville Central Community Center (disclosure: I’m a former LCCC board chair), the Urban League, Community Ventures and the YMCA; and private companies and investors like Passport Health Plan and Gill Holland, to name a few.
This map highlights some of the more prominent investments that have been made over the past three years or are in the pipeline for the near future. It is not an all-inclusive list. Nor are its investment-dollar estimates precise. But it does give a clear indication of economic momentum.
Folks who live in west Louisville have seen these kinds of projections in the past but found that the reality never quite matched up to the promise. If Louisville is ever truly to reverse the decline of this part of our city, it is essential that the momentum gained and the promises made over the past few years become real and sustained.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
1. Choice Neighborhoods/Beecher Terrace Redevelopment
Razing of Beecher Terrace public-housing project, redevelopment as mixed-use, mixed-income commercial and residential area. Estimated investment: $265 million for Choice Neighborhoods plan for the entire Russell neighborhood.
2. THE BLVD/Muhammad Ali Arts, Cultural and Commercial District
Multi-year plan for commercial, cultural and residential developments along Muhammad Ali Boulevard between Fifth and 22nd streets, led by Louisville Central Community Center. Estimated investment for first phase (between Ninth and 13th streets, on the Beecher Terrace footprint): $156 million.
3. Passport Health Plan Headquarters
Headquarters of Passport Health Plan. Estimated investment: $130 million.
4. MSD Shawnee Park Basin Project and Shawnee Park Improvements.
Construction of a 20-million-gallon sewage storage basin to reduce overflows into the Ohio River, followed by extensive renovations to park sports facilities, a new open-air pavilion and restoration of the lily pond. Projected completion: 2020. Estimated investment: $60 million.
5. Waterfront Park Phase IV
Expansion of Waterfront Park to 22 acres in Portland along the Ohio River west of the I-64 Ninth Street ramp. Estimated investment: $35 million.
6. Heritage West Track and Field Facility
An Urban League-proposed track and field athletic facility on a vacant former tobacco manufacturing property in Russell. Projected opening: 2020. Estimated investment: $30 million.
7. The Healing Place
A 200-bed expansion of the nonprofit’s men’s campus for alcoholics and addicts. Projected completion: December 2018. Estimated investment: $29 million.
8. West Louisville Republic Bank Foundation YMCA
A long-planned new YMCA is under construction and is expected to be completed in mid-2019. The 77,000-square-foot facility will include a swimming pool, fitness center, gym, an indoor track and classrooms. Estimated investment: $28 million.
9. Portland Investment Initiative
Multiple commercial, residential and infrastructure projects in the Portland neighborhood. Estimated investment: $24 million.
10. Bridging the Divide – Re-imagining Ninth Street
Louisville Forward, metro government’s urban planning and economic-development arm, is in the planning stage of a major redesign of the artery that divides west Louisville and the central business district.
11. West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative
This multi-site plan includes extensive renovations and improvements to Shawnee and Chickasaw parks and the development of Portland Wharf Park. Elements include a new Shawnee boat ramp for Ohio River access, a Shawnee Outdoor Learning Center to provide nature-based educational and recreation opportunities, pond renovations, gardens, walking and biking trails and play areas. Estimated investment: $10 million.
12. The Village @ West Jefferson (Molo Village)
A mixed-use 30,000-square-foot retail and office building is under development at 12th and Jefferson streets. Estimated investment: $7 million.
13. Mini-Versity Expansion
As part of the redevelopment of Beecher Terrace, Louisville Central Community Center will expand its Mini-Versity child development center and develop a connected pediatric health center. Projected completion: 2020. Estimated investment: $6.8 million.
14. Cedar Street/Quinn Gardens
Louisville Urban League and Community Ventures are building 25 market-rate single-family homes along Cedar Street between 18th and 20th streets. Estimated investment: $6 million.
This kitchen/restaurant incubator developed by Community Ventures — on the site formerly occupied by Jay’s Cafeteria — opened in November 2015. Estimated investment: $3.5 million.
16. Louisville Central Community Center Old Walnut Street Development
Since 2015, LCCC has created a conference center, office space for small businesses and installed a high-speed “Gigabit Experience” data hub in renovated buildings on its Old Walnut Street campus at 13th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard. Also under construction or in the planning stages on the campus are a commercial kitchen and a performing arts theater. Estimated innvestment: $2.7 million.
17. TARC Headquarters
Renovation of the public transit company’s HVAC systems. Estimated investment: $2.25 million.
18. Victory Park
Phase One of the renovation of this California neighborhood park was completed in November 2017, including a new walking path, relocated basketball court and additional lighting. Work is expected to start in 2018 on Phase Two, which will include a sprayground and playground. Phase One estimated investment: $1 million.
19. Parkland Neighborhood Plan for 28th Street Commercial Corridor Between Virginia and Dumesnil avenues.
Still in the planning stages, efforts are underway to revitalize an area that formerly was the commercial center of the Parkland neighborhood.
This Switzerland-based company expanded operations at its 12th Street plant with the addition of a polypropylene catalyst plant. Estimated investment: $115 million.
21. AAK Expansion
The vegetable oil manufacturer expanded its processing operations. In 2018 it opened the Louisville Customer Innovation Center, which includes a bakery lab, pilot plant and analytical lab for research and development. Estimated investment: $27.6 million.
22. Mesa Foods
This tortilla manufacturer is adding 9,000 square feet to its Louisville plant. Estimated investment: $12 million.
23. Reynolds Expansion
The aluminum foil producer announced an expansion project in 2016. Estimated investment: $4 million.
24. Interapt Headquarters
This technology-solution business renovated a 22,000-square-foot former warehouse in Portland as its headquarters. Estimated investment: $3.7 million.
25. Dant Clayton
The bleacher and seating manufacturer acquired Tuttle Railing Systems and moved its operations to Louisville. Estimated investment: $2 million.
26. Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.
Construction of new distillery in a renovated Portland warehouse.
27. Against the Grain
Against the Grain brewery opened a 25,000-square-foot brewing facility on Northwestern Parkway in Portland in 2015. Estimated investment: $1.7 million.
28. FMS Janitorial Service
FMS moved to a new Portland neighborhood headquarters in 2017. Estimated investment: $1.3 million.
29. Heine Brothers’ Headquarters
The local coffee-roaster established its headquarters in a renovated Portland building in 2016. Estimated investment: $950,000.
30. Louisville Grows Healthy House
This conservation-minded nonprofit opened its headquarters and community meeting space in spring 2017 in a new building in Portland. Estimated investment: $250,000
31. Farm to Fork Catering
Renovated former firehouse, moved business, opened cafe. Estimated investment: $150,000
32. Nia Center
2017 renovations include a new Sweet Peaches cafe, updated office space and program enhancements. Estimated investment: $100,000.
33. Gelato Gilberto
Opened commissary kitchen in 2014.
34. Please & Thank You
Opened Hot Coffee and the P&TY Bakehouse in 2015.
35. The Table
This pay-what-you-can restaurant opened in November 2015.
36. Angie’s Home Cooking
This homestyle family restaurant opened in 2017.
37. Southern Hospitality Bar & Grill
This restaurant and nightclub opened in 2017.
38. Louisville Visual Arts Association
A nonprofit that supports and teaches visual arts moved to Portland in 2016.
39. Blue Palm Accessories
This fashion accessory store opened in April 2017.
40. Dishone Coffee and Sandwich Shop
This eatery opened in July 2017.
41. Flo’s House of Soul
Restaurant opened in August 2017.
This originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine. Every story in our March issue is about west Louisville, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. Click here to read more from part four of our series on the West End.