LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Four Louisville institutions are hoping they can come together to transform a major district in the heart of downtown, improving where people work, learn and get medical care.

The partnership — coined "LOUMED" — will take on the task. Anchored by Norton Healthcare, UofL Health, the University of Louisville and Jefferson Community & Technical College, LOUMED is a planned medical and education district covering a large section of the city's downtown core.

"We are well on our way to transform this district into something remarkable," said Nadareca Thibeaux, executive director of LOUMED.

LOUMED said the area attracts more than 1.5 million visitors per year and employs more than 16,000 people with total annual salaries surpassing $1 billion.

And there are big goals for the future, among them plans to demolish a building and create a community park. JCTC will spend $90 million over five years on campus improvements.

"We know that our success is totally bound by the success of the neighborhood where we live," said Dr. Ty Handy, president of JCTC. "It will be the largest single investment by any community college in the history of the community college system across the state." 

LOUMED laid out the main strategy initiatives last year:

  • Provide a safe, clean, and welcoming environment for patients, visitors and employees
  • Create an improved campus environment, especially for the benefit of pedestrian movement, including a network of open space
  • Create a hierarchy of streets within and approaching the District, making it easier and less confusing to enter and navigate for both cars and people
  • Improve signage and wayfinding, both internally and externally
  • Explore additional services within and adjacent to the District, for the benefit of both visitors and employees
  • Reinforce the image and identity of LOUMED as the region’s primary medical and educational district
  • Identify priority initiatives for Louisville Metro to undertake to support these objectives
  • Identify uses that are inconsistent with the goals and growth of the District

It's a massive, broad plan, but at its core, it calls for downtown improvements and beautification. For example, plans outlined in 2022 outline a total re-imagination of the Broadway corridor — something planned for years via Metro Council — as well two-way traffic conversion and new lighting and landscaping along Chestnut Street. There are also plans to turn a vacant Metro Corrections facility into the LOUMED Gardens between Floyd, Chestnut, Preston and Gray streets. 

The area encompassed within LOUMED is a large portion of downtown Louisville, where patients get the care they need, where medical professionals go to work and where thousands of college students learn. It stretches for 22 city blocks north to south from Liberty Street to Breckinridge Street and west to east from 2nd Street to Clay Street.

"We're gonna create the environment that welcomes them, encourages them, makes them heal, makes not only our greater community better ... but LOUMED better," said Ken Marshall, chief operating officer of UofL Health.

LOUMED leadership is already working to address concerns about safety and cleanliness by expanding the Block by Block ambassador program. Ambassadors are already working in other areas downtown and several Louisville neighborhoods. Visitors to the area will now see ambassadors in bright green shirts ready to help.

There is money set aside in Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg's budget for the project, and LOUMED leaders plan to advocate for state and federal funding this year as well.

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