Shelby Park is a neighborhood that has been struggling with poverty and crime for years, but now it’s enjoying a renaissance of sorts. The latest part of that progress is the addition of the Logan Street Market, which “broke ground” on Tuesday.

The Safais have been using part of the building as their coffee roastery, and now are expanding into a city market, similar to Seattle’s Pike Place Market or Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, they said.

There will be food vendors, restaurants, a brewery, entertainment and much more starting this fall when the market at 1001 Logan St. opens.

Mayor Greg Fischer said Safai had what it takes to make a venture like this one successful.

“When you see project like this … These are not risk-free ventures. We want to see who the folks are behind this — do they have a proven track record of entrepreneurship and do they know how to get things done?,” Fischer said. “Mike Safai has shown this throughout his life, that he knows how to make a good bet, knows how to have a good heart and treat everybody fairly along the way. And that’s what it takes to make something like this happen.”

Safai said the project has happened in the last 11 months. “I was just telling the mayor that when I start a project like this, I don’t like to get too excited about it because I don’t want to disappoint myself,” he joked. “But when it happens, I start freaking out. I believe this is right time for it.”

He said in the 20 years he’s lived in Louisville, he’s always felt that the city needed a marketplace. So he’s making it happen himself. “I think it’s going to be great for the city of Louisville, that is one of the best cities in the world!” he said to applause. “I’m excited that this is happening in Shelby Park because I think this is a great neighborhood with a lot of potential.”

Medora Safai, Mike Safai’s wife and co-founder, said she’s most excited about the programs that will be happening in the space. She said it would be similar to the Louisville Free Public Library’s How-to Festival, which just finished up a couple of weeks ago.

She’s partnered with the library to come out and do story time for the children, as well as have cooking and hobby demonstrations. “There will be demonstrations, like how to change out your window, how to raise chickens, how to do gardening on a little tiny deck, how to do things,” she said.

Mike Safai speaks to the crowd about his dream for Logan Street Market. Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith looks on. | Photo by Lisa Hornung

Mike Safai stressed the importance of helping the community, too.

He said he wants to have a “5-30 program,” to teach people how to cook a meal with $5 in 30 minutes to feed a family of four. “Because that’s the only time that family is together anymore is at the dinner table,” he said.

But this project is not about making money for him, Safai said.

“The money we make as profit is all going to be spent in the neighborhood, for yards and streets and homes,” he said. “If we can give the people who live in this neighborhood a sense of pride and community, then they’ll want to do better to keep their neighborhood better. The whole project is about the neighborhood.”

Lisa Hornung a native of Louisville and has worked in local media for more than 15 years as a writer and editor. Before that she worked as a writer, editor and photographer for community newspapers in Kansas, Ohio and Kentucky. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia, and after a 20-year career in journalism, she obtained a master’s degree in history from Eastern Kentucky University in 2016.