A new plan to add more eateries to west Louisville includes turning vacant homes into restaurants

Eyesores to be turned into restaurants in Russell neighborhood

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville Metro government, One West and Chef Space are hoping to turn two vacant homes and an empty lot into restaurant incubator spaces.

The properties are on South 18th Street near Muhammad Ali Boulevard in Russell.

One of the homes is owned by Community Ventures, another home is owned by One West, and the empty lot is owned by Louisville Metro.

Gretchen Milliken is the Louisville Metro Director of Advanced Planning & Sustainability.
Gretchen Milliken is the Louisville Metro Director of Advanced Planning & Sustainability. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Louisville Metro Director of Advanced Planning & Sustainability Gretchen Milliken said the plan is still in the early stages and needs a zoning change approved before anything else can happen.

Milliken spoke to residents of Russell Tuesday night, explaining the plan to change the zoning of the properties from residential to commercial.

“We’re going to be keeping the character of the residential look and feel of the neighborhood, but [the homes] will be outfitted as commercial properties,” Milliken said.

Milliken said the idea is that people who graduate from Chef Space will have the opportunity to use the spaces to establish themselves and their businesses.

“We know this is a density node. We know this is an active node where people are already here. So as opposed to putting them some place where we're trying to pull people there, we can capitalize on the fact that there are already people in that area,” Milliken said.

Chef Space, the kitchen incubator for food entrepreneurs, is right around the corner from the properties. Since opening in November 2015, they have helped launch 80 businesses. Many of them still use Chef Space to continue their businesses. More than a dozen of them have moved out and opened up their own shops.

Jessica Morgan is the president of Chef Space.
Jessica Morgan is the president of Chef Space. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Chef Space president Jessica Morgan said the goal is to create more food establishments in west Louisville, and adding the homes as restaurants will help further that mission.

“We really see that having that opportunity to test out your concept before you make that huge investment is really what helps make a restauranteur successful,” Morgan said.

The homes would be fixed up, inside and out, but will keep the residential look. The vacant lot next to the homes, which his owned by Metro Louisville, will turn into an outdoor eating space.

"This really is just another step on the runway or the ladder for our businesses to be able to minimize their risk and really help them accelerate to their future brick and mortar locations in west Louisville,” Morgan said.

Morgan said different restaurants and concepts would rotate in and out of the homes. Chef Space is hoping to have a restaurant up and running from the properties by November or December.

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