Competing ideas for developing 24 acres in west Louisville

Updated: Jun. 12, 2017 at 10:22 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A massive development expected to breathe new economic life into west Louisville is showing some new life of its own.

Heritage West project, located on 30th Street in the Russell neighborhood, is 24 acres of concrete, weeds and broken promises. After a $56 million FoodPort development fell through last year, the city went back to the drawing board to solicit new proposals.

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Four ideas are currently in the running.  One is a $200 million technology research park. Another, promoted by the Louisville Urban League, is a massive indoor track-and-field facility. League President Sadiqa Reynolds said she believes the indoor facility would attract thousands to the city and create an economic ripple effect.

"When you build a place like this, you create an energy of people moving about," Reynolds said. "And all of a sudden you have other businesses that will follow."

Two other development proposals are intended to provide better availability of fresh food for area residents. A proposed organic project called Heritage Gardens would be a $178 million development. There is also a separate plan for a local food cooperative. Co-op spokeswoman Amanda Fuller explained the project could be complimentary to other developments on the property while offering local residents better food.

"A community-owned project can do better than a corporate-owned grocery store," Fuller said.  "We can be a little more attentive to the kinds of needs and benefits people have."

When the city bought the property four years ago, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer described how the city wanted any development selected for the property to create jobs that bring investment, encourage spending and lure other retail growth. The city will soon take public comment to determine which project or projects are approved for development.

Therese Zawacki, a senior policy advisor for Louisville Forward, said the final project could be a mix of all current proposals.

"It's possible and we've left that solicitation of interest wide open for this property to say that the possibilities really are endless," she said.

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