Melissa Willis of Les Filles Boutique

It was a packed house for this morning’s press conference at Theatre Square Marketplace where Mayor Fischer and others revealed some less-than-new news about the new South Fourth Street retail push.

The “news,” most of which you’ve already heard at Insider Louisville several times:

  • Six “uniquely Louisville” stores will be moving into the blocks between the Seelbach and Brown hotels.
  • The city and the Council have made an investment to improve the streetscapes on that corridor.
  • The city’s marketing machine really is going to push the “SoFo” nickname.
  • Six more retailers are considering moving in.
  • The Mayor and the City Council have a list of around 60 retailers that they would like to see move to SoFo. All are local.
  • They are counting on the local businesses to lead the way for national chains to take interest.

David Tandy, 4th District Councilman, said SoFo will not be a place just for visitors. He said many downtown workers have long lamented the fact that if they spill soup on their ties or put a hole in their stockings, they have nowhere to go to buy a replacement.

The Leading Man menswear retailer will solve  problems for clumsy men; Les Filles Boutique has the women covered. “This is the first step in the revitalization of Fourth Street,” said Tandy. His hope is that as more boutique retailers move in, perhaps a grocery chain will take notice.

Melissa Willis of Les Filles Boutique (fingers crossed that locals don’t bastardize that name and start calling it “Les Fillies”) spoke on behalf of the retailers. Willis emphasized the SoFo moniker and emphasized that next steps should include a merchant’s association and retail partnership with the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Mayor Fischer used this opportunity to plug his proposed local option sales tax plan, called Local Investments for Transformation (LIFT).  According to the Fischer administration, the plan could bring in $90 million annually with a one percent hike to the state sales tax.

Social media in Louisville is exploding today with neighborhood portmanteaus mocking the SoFo designation. The Mayor’s office would be wise to listen to people who live in SoWeLou (Southwest Louisville), GeTo (Germantown), BuLou (Butchertown, Louisville) and DoLo (Douglass Loop) and put the SoFo designation on the back burner (or, as most people seem to be suggesting, kill it entirely).

Buy-in is so important, and many citizens are not buying in to the cutesy abbreviations and nicknames.

Honestly, I think Fischer even rolled his eyes a little when he said “SoFo.” These things need to happen naturally and then exploited. No one likes the guy in the office who says, “My nickname is Champ. Call me Champ.” You get called “Champ” when you’ve earned “Champ.”

Remember, the “NuLu” designation didn’t really take hold until the promise of a revitalized E. Market Street corridor materially manifested.

Fischer said the South Fourth Street revitalization shows us the “value of planning.” But it may also be an example of overplanning.

[dc_ad size="9"] [dc_ad size="10"]

10 thoughts on “Good plan, bad name: South Fourth Street, or ‘SoFo,’ plans for retail revitalization

  1. I wouldn’t call it pessimistic, just realistic. I’ve yet to hear from one person who likes the SoFo designation. It’s a joke. And Melissa put it well when she pointed out you don’t demand a nickname, you earn it. SoFo sounds utterly ridiculous, and if I were a business looking to put a location there, you better believe I’d be saying South Fourth Street and leave the cutesy nicknames behind.

  2. If I remember correctly north/south streets in the downtown grid used to be referred to as Avenues. If true, returning to the name 4th Avenue for this stretch would be a great name that differentiates this area as a shopping district.

  3. If I remember correctly north/south streets in the downtown grid used to be referred to as Avenues. If true, returning to the name 4th Avenue for this stretch would be a great name that differentiates this area as a shopping district.

  4. I wouldn’t call it pessimistic, just realistic. I’ve yet to hear from one person who likes the SoFo designation. It’s a joke. And Melissa put it well when she pointed out you don’t demand a nickname, you earn it. SoFo sounds utterly ridiculous, and if I were a business looking to put a location there, you better believe I’d be saying South Fourth Street and leave the cutesy nicknames behind.

Leave a Reply