LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — California health insurer Molina Healthcare has finally taken ownership of the former Passport headquarters site at 18th Street and Broadway in west Louisville, more than two years after Molina inherited the remnants of Passport Health Plan.

The prominent west Louisville site was donated to city government 20 years ago. Yet the city, under former Mayor Jerry Abramson and later Mayor Greg Fischer, managed to fully privatize the site without receiving any money for it and also failing to achieve any development, as WDRB News detailed in an investigative story in June.

Molina’s $8 million purchase of the site renews hope that something will replace the rusty steel frame that Passport abruptly left behind in 2019 when the organization’s finances deteriorated.

Molina has said it wants to provide a “community focused” development. It didn’t provide more details in a press release on Friday, and a spokesman did not immediately respond to questions.

“Our state and local partners have challenged us to think beyond the needs of our own company, to help make this property a vibrant place,” said Ryan Sadler, plan president for Passport Health Plan by Molina Healthcare, in the press release. “We will get input from community leaders, local stakeholders, and our government partners as we work toward a bright future for the community.”

Jefferson County Public Schools is eyeing the site for a future middle school, WDRB reported in September. District spokeswoman Carolyn Callahan had no comment on Friday.

The Molina news release includes comments attributed to Fischer and to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

“I commend Molina for listening to the people of West Louisville to ensure this new development aligns with the needs of the Kentuckians living there,” Beshear said in the release. “Molina has been a key Team Kentucky partner, ensuring that communities across our commonwealth have increased access to health care, and this will be another step in the company’s commitment to ensuring families live full, healthy lives.” 

 "We are enthusiastic about Molina Healthcare's next steps in the long-awaited effort to bring this vacant site back into productive use with the input and needs of the community top of mind," Fischer said in the release. "This project is one part of a broader effort by public, private and nonprofit partners to revitalize west Louisville neighborhoods, an effort that includes major investments like the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, the Goodwill Industries of Kentucky and Norton Healthcare Opportunity Campus, the Louisville Urban League’s Norton Sports & Learning Center, and the redevelopment of Beecher Terrace."

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2022. WDRB Media. All rights reserved.