Gill Holland, Steve Poe talk development in West Louisville, wha - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gill Holland, Steve Poe talk development in West Louisville, what to do if Humana is sold

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Gill Holland, the filmmaker and de-facto mayor of Louisville's Nulu neighborhood, and Steve Poe, the developer who's building the Aloft Hotel and River Park Place apartment complex downtown. Gill Holland, the filmmaker and de-facto mayor of Louisville's Nulu neighborhood, and Steve Poe, the developer who's building the Aloft Hotel and River Park Place apartment complex downtown.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Bank Street in Portland could become the new E. Market Street in Nulu.

A new soccer stadium for the Louisville City Football Club could be built in West Louisville.

If a big out-of-town insurance company buys Humana, that company should move its jobs to Louisville, and not the other way around.

These are among dozens of ideas conveyed Wednesday by Gill Holland, the filmmaker and de-facto mayor of Louisville's Nulu neighborhood, and Steve Poe, the developer who's building the Aloft Hotel and River Park Place apartment complex downtown.

Holland and Poe spoke to an overflow crowd at Holland's own Green Building at a talk moderated by commercial real estate broker Reed Weinberg of PRG Investments.

The discussion centered on how to revitalize West Louisville, the environment for private developers in Louisville and a big elephant in the room: the possibility that hometown gem Humana might be sold.

Rather than try to synthesize all that into a coherent narrative, I'm just going to provide a list of Holland and Poe's comments:

  • Holland: “Nulu was so close to not happening” when, in 2008, his group secured a $5 million loan to “grossly overpay” Wayside Christian Mission for its E. Market Street property. Another few weeks and the money might not have been available because of the global credit crunch, Holland said.
  • Holland: Now that the Sherman Minton Bridge is going to be the only (interstate) bridge without tolls, people who work downtown will have more incentive to head west, and they might notice Portland on their way and stop (similar to the way people used to just drive through Nulu on their way to the Highlands or Crescent Hill).
  • Poe and Holland agreed that people who object to projects like Willow Grande need to embrace high-density development in the city. It costs the public a lot less than extending sewers, water, power, etc. to newly built subdivisions out east.
  • Poe: the ambitious (now defunct) plan to build the Museum Plaza skyscraper was a “passion project.” Making money “was not the driving force. The driving force was to make change in Louisville.”
  • “Maybe I am completely delusional,” Holland admitted, but if a company like Cigna or Aetna buys Humana, that company could “save a bagillion dollars in real estate” by “bring(ing) all the people and leaving a skeleton crew where they are… Maybe there is an argument to be made to their institutional shareholders.”
  • Poe: “If there is a soccer stadium, it should go west.” Poe was actually agreeing with prolific downtown developer Bill Weyland, who piped up from the back of the room to say that the city needs more “magnets” that will attract people to west Louisville, like a soccer stadium at 22nd Street. (Poe is president of new nonprofit called One West seeking to advance west Louisville).
  • To that end, Poe said he's “doing everything I can” accelerate the westward expansion of Waterfront Park, including looking at a tax-increment financing district.
  • Holland: Government is good at spending a lot of money in one place, like $135 million for the new Omni Hotel downtown. But 135 separate investments of $1 million in west Louisville would transform the area, he said.
  • The “9th Street divide” separating the West End from the rest of Louisville is not insurmountable, Holland said. Years ago, people in Austin, Texas, thought the east side of the city would not develop because of its separation via Interstate 35. But now east Austin is “on fire,” he said. “9th Street is nothing compared to I-35,” he said.

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