LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville’s Downtown Revitalization Team unveiled its recommendations for projects to help the city recover its momentum.
Mayor Greg Fischer announced in January that the team, made up of more than 100 stakeholders, would be tasked with strategizing and prioritizing ways to revive the downtown core. He said it was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and protests for racial justice. So the goal was not to bring downtown back to what it was before, but to make it better for everyone in the future.
Through many of the brainstorming sessions, consistent themes kept popping up like vibrant, clean, safe, equitable, and inclusive. After months of discussions, the team came up with a list of recommended projects.
According to the city’s press release, the following are some of the action items:
- Hiring new Business Improvement District ambassadors
- Improving the RiverWalk from 3rd Street to 7th Street
- Hosting free outdoor concerts with the Louisville Orchestra
- Plan downtown events, including Whiskey Alley event series, The Black Out: Arts Festival on the Belvedere and Broadway Under the Stars
- Replacing streetlights
- Developing a master calendar and mobile application highlighting businesses, events and notable downtown destinations
- Growing marketing efforts around the “Downtown Strong” and “Lou Needs You” campaigns
“It was a lot of work that we did really fast,” said Rebecca Fleischaker, co-chief of Louisville Forward and a member of the Downtown Revitalization Team. “So now, we start the hard work of implementing some of these ideas.
“Part of what I really like about this effort is that it’s including east and west of downtown, too — so the NuLu and Russell neighborhoods — trying to really impact the edges to stretch the boundaries of downtown."
She said much of the discussion revolved around how to make downtown more inclusive.
“So how do we focus on attracting more Black-owned businesses to downtown?" she said. "How do we have more programming that feels good for all ages, all demographics, all colors of people."
Timelines for the projects are split into 30-, 60-, 90- and 120-day windows, but it all depends on funding. Louisville Metro’s recommended FY22 budget includes $14.5 million in downtown projects, of which $8 million is for Waterfront Park Phase IV. The rest should cover many of the infrastructure projects on the team’s action plan.
However, the rest of the revitalization plan could exceed $13 million, which will need to be covered by private or federal funding. Fleischaker said she hopes to know by the end of the month which projects funding from the American Rescue Plan might cover.
Several changes and improvements have already been made this spring. The city cleaned up more than 200 instances of graffiti and more than 5,000 pounds of litter. Crews also planted more than 100 flower pots.
The city hired three downtown ambassadors and intends to hire more. A press release also noted that the city hired three Homeless Communication Coordinators to connect the city’s homeless population to services. And the team intends to invest some of the American Rescue Plan funding to add more temporary shelter or permanent housing options in the city.
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