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Downtown Revitalization Team unveils action plan as Louisville continues to reopen

Mayor Greg Fischer formed the team in January in response to the impact of the pandemic
Published: Jun. 3, 2021 at 7:54 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 8:19 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - In a 14-page action plan, Louisville’s Downtown Revitalization Team (DRT) presented a series of recommendations aimed at bringing people and local businesses back. Mayor Greg Fischer formed the DRT in January in response to the impact of the pandemic in Louisville.

The team’s final recommendations were released Tuesday with a focus on large events, marketing efforts, and infrastructure improvements.

“It’s really about getting people back into gathering mode and we want to be safe about that and intentional about that,” Louisville Forward co-chief Jeff O’Brien said. “So I think getting those downtown events and doing some promotion of downtown and getting people reacquainted with downtown is important.”

According to a press release, some action items include:

  • 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

O’Brien told WAVE 3 News there was also a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the plan. One recommendation underway will bring a Black-owned business pop-up mall to Fourth Street Live! on the third Saturday of every month.

“So downtown coming back as it was is not going to be good enough for our community any longer. We really need to find a way to get more Black-owned businesses downtown,” he said.

The plan recommendations are split into 30, 60, 90, and 120-day windows. Louisville Metro’s recommended FY22 budget includes $14.5 million of projects downtown, including $8 million for Waterfront Park Phase IV. In addition to the city projects, the action plan reflects more than $13 million in recommendations.

An advisory group will continue to work with the city and Louisville Downtown Partnership staff to focus on prioritizing and implementing recommendations as funding is secured.

The plan comes as some downtown businesses begin to return and welcome back customers. Howl at the Moon on Fourth Street Live! reopened after its doors Thursday after it closed for more than 14 months amid the pandemic. However, it’s not a full return to normalcy - the piano bar plans to only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday instead of seven days a week.

“As we get it together you see it and you start to get the memories of what it was like,” Howl at the Moon sales and events manager Bridget Griffin said. “I will be ecstatic once I see the first guest walk through that door.”

It marks a significant comeback for Fourth Street Live!, which lost the Hard Rock Cafe, Jim Beam Urban Still House, and Eddie Merlot’s last year as many other businesses shuttered temporality.

“Other than what we lost, I think a lot of places are coming back. I think there are a couple that aren’t opening right now because of staff issues, but ... it’s getting back to normal.”

Kentucky bars and restaurants continue to have a 75% capacity limitation. Gov. Andy Beshear has previously said he would lift all capacity restrictions and the state’s mask mandate, in most cases, on June 11.

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