Plans unveiled, first tenants secured for West Louisville food h - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Plans unveiled, first tenants secured for West Louisville food hub

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With an architect in place and a number of companies already committed, plans for a West Louisville food hub are closer to reality.

Seed Capital Kentucky released master plans for the food marketplace last week. Netherlands-based architect OMA worked alongside GBBN Architects of Louisville to design a campus where local farmers can package, distribute and sell goods.

"It gives you a sense of the hope that can be here, and the vision of what we've been working on for several years," said Caroline Heine of Seed Capital Kentucky. "The plan shows how the buildings will work and how the site can be very functional, and yet how it can invite the public to participate in what's happening on the campus."

The 24-acre site is located at S. 30th Street between W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard and W. Market Street, a property formerly occupied by the National Tobacco Company.

The project aims to reduce the amount of travel, money and time that goes into local food production, while making consumer access easier.

"Our vision for this project is one that collapses a lot of those middle men and transactions into one place where they can all work together to help create more fresh, regional food and help our region feed itself more sustainably," said Seed Capital Kentucky founder Stephen Reily.

The master plan is in part a result of research compiled by architecture students at Harvard.

"Our architects have been teaching a three year sequence of courses at Harvard's graduate school of design about how urban design and food can work together in new ways in America," said Reily. "It's their research that formed a really important part of the master plan."

The design includes public and retail access along the front, while industry will enter through the back.

"At each of those junctions there is a place for the public to engage," said Reily regarding the four streets that intersect with S. 30th Street. "The trucks and industrial use come in off Market Street and can wind their way through the site without interfering with the public uses."

Reily says four organizations have formally committed to the food hub: KHI Foods, Jefferson County Cooperative Extension, Star Distributed Energy, and the Weekly Juicery.

The first phase of the project is expected to break ground this summer. Reily expects construction on the biodigester to begin in May 2015. The biodigester will turn organic waste into heat and energy.

Seed Capital Kentucky is $1 million into their $20 million fundraising goal. The entire project is estimated to cost $46 million.

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