Report: More than 1 in 5 downtown Louisville offices remain vacant; mayoral candidates explain their solutions

According to reports from Cushman & Wakefield, statistics from the first quarter of 2022 show 21.5% of businesses in the Central Business District are vacant, c
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 6:12 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Downtown Louisville’s growth has been stunted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several businesses closed, while others allowed their employees to work from home.

What is supposed to be Louisville’s most vibrant and visited area was, at one point, transformed into a ghost town.

But as the city attempts to revitalize downtown, one aspect of business remains on the downward swing.

According to the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, statistics from Q1 of 2022 show 21.5 percent of office space in Louisville’s Central Business District is vacant, an increase from compared to 17.5% in Q4 of 2019.

Bill Dieruf and Craig Greenberg, Louisville’s two mayoral candidates, addressed those concerns at a public forum Tuesday afternoon.

“Let’s start making it easier to do projects, to take some of these surface parking lots that are downtown and help transform them into vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods with people living, shopping, working, going to fun events,” Greenberg said. “Let’s get the city out of the real estate holding company business and take some of these downtown properties that they own, and work with the private and nonprofit sector to transform them into new neighborhoods, into new developments that people want to spend time at and live in. And let’s work with owners of office buildings right now to make sure that downtown is seen as the most inviting, interesting and affordable place to do business.”

Dieruf said Louisville needs to incentivize growth through a financial program similar to the one Jeffersontown currently utilizes, called J-Town Economic Business Savings.

“How do we refill our downtown,” Dieruf asked. “The government needs to work with business on incentives to re-do the offices of the future. Our incentives in Frankfort right now are manufacturing based, and we have a fantastic manufacturing base with Ford and GE and other manufacturers. But the incentives have to be office based, tech based. We have to attract the other businesses here. We have to have the incentives to be able to attract the businesses here.”

Those ideas will have to wait until November, when one of those men is elected to be the next mayor of Louisville.

In the meantime, the city and private employers are working on other ways to bring employees and employers back downtown.

Starting June 1 and running through October, the city is hosting Food Truck Wednesdays, bringing different food trucks to 4th Street between Jefferson and Market Streets.

The goal is to give people currently working downtown more lunchtime options, and attract others to visit downtown.

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