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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- (WDRB) The old Philip Morris warehouse on West Broadway has been a vacant eyesore for more than a decade.
Now the property is about to be transformed. The warehouse will be replaced by a new West Louisville YMCA. And the change is expected to spark a revival of the entire neighborhood.
It has anchored 18th and Broadway for more than 50 years, and was once a major employer. But the Philip Morris warehouse has sat padlocked and empty since 2000. Now work crews are tearing it down.
But soon, workouts will replace the warehouse at a new $13-million West Louisville YMCA.
"We are very, very excited about the way this project has come together," said Louisville YMCA President and CEO Steve Tarver.
It came together after Philip Morris decided to donate the property, valued at more than one million dollars.
The new building will include a fitness center and swimming pool.
"We're going to have a modern building there," said Tarver.
It's a bit ironic that an old cigarette warehouse is giving way to an organization that promotes good health.
"We certainly appreciate the heritage and the economic impact that the business had. And we are delighted to be part of the renewal of that area," said Tarver.
Indeed, the new YMCA may help energize the neighborhood, attracting new business.
Babinta Koita owns a clothing store across the street.
"I think it's a good thing for the community. It's a good thing for the businesses around here in this area," said Koita.
"Hopefully, not only will we do the things that we do well, but that it will attract some additional economic and commercial development in that area," said Tarver.
The Chestnut Street YMCA, which has historically served West Louisville, will remain. And the YMCA plans to partner with U of L and others; diving in to bring a range of services to impact both physical and cultural health.
"We hope to impact some of the violence issues that exist in our community. We hope to strongly impact some of the youth development issues," said Tarver.
Demolition of that huge building will take about seven months before construction can even begin. The new West Louisville YMCA is expected to open in late 2014 or early 2015.