Mayor Greg Fischer in March called on developers to submit proposals for how they wanted to redevelop Heritage West. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Four potential developers have put forth proposals that envision quite different futures for the 24-acre Heritage West site at 30th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

The proposals include a state-of-the-art biotechnology research park, a food cooperative, a world-class track and field athletic facility, and a development with equestrian facilities, community gardens and a ropes course.

All four proposals were posted to the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government website for residents to review. The city will host a public meeting to gather feedback about the proposals from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 19 at Louisville Central Community Centers, 1300 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

The city solicited proposals from any interested developer in March as part of an effort to involve citizens more in decisions related to how to redevelop large government-owned properties such as Heritage West and the Urban Government Center. In West Louisville, in particular, a community group called the West Louisville Community Council offered input on what types of developments residents would like to see at Heritage West as guidelines for developers who submitted proposals.

“Last fall, the West Louisville Community Council helped lead residents in the establishment of a set of priorities for the redevelopment of this site through extensive community engagement activities,” Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton (D-5) said in a news release. “Now, the community will have another opportunity to stay engaged in this important process by reviewing the proposals online or reading hard copies of each at the Western and Shawnee Branch libraries.”

Below is a summary of how each of the four developers would reuse the 24 acres. Residents can comment on the proposals at the June 19 meeting or online.

Cooperative grocery store

West Louisville has long been described as a food desert, which the West Louisville FoodPort had hoped to address before the project fell apart. Since then, urban planner Cassia Herron has started working on gathering information and partners for a food cooperative.

“We believe a cooperative grocery store carrying a wide diversity of affordable, fresh food will meet this desire and need. Not only will the store support local farmers, but most importantly, because it is a cooperative, it will be owned by community members themselves,” the proposal states. “Economic power is one of the pillars of community power, and cooperative groceries recirculate money within the area, rather than send profits off to distant corporate headquarters.”

For the cooperative to succeed, it would need to raise at least $1.5 million and recruit 1,000 members who would pay a fee based off of their income, similar to New Roots’ Fresh Stop Markets. The cooperative also would seek to secure loans, angel investors and public and private grant funds.

While the grocery cooperative is the main focus, the proposal notes that a cafe, classroom for nutrition or cooking tutorials and an event space could be part of Heritage West in the future.

The project’s development partners include food-focused organizations such as the Food in Neighborhoods Community Coalition, Whole Life Buying Club, Kentucky Center for Agriculture & Rural Development and Community Farm Alliance.

Heritage West Global Research Park

The proposal includes land for public space and commercial development. | Rendering from Clifford Turner’s proposal

Businessman Clifford Turner’s general plan was made public a few weeks ago when the Concerned Pastors of Russell backed the plan.

The plan totals $241 million in costs, according to the proposal submitted to Louisville Metro. That includes initial developments such as two state-of-the-art biotechnology laboratories, 24-hour child development facilities and a children’s lab. Other potential aspects of developments such as an amphitheater, grocery store/farmers market, museum and investment in vacant homes surrounding the property could come later.

Turner noted in the proposal that he would apply for New Market Tax Credits, seek a tax incentive from the city and look to tap into other government loans or tax credits to cover $81.2 million of the project cost. A group in Portland, Ore., called United Fund Advisors, stated in a letter that it was interested in possibly providing New Market Tax Credits to the project should it meet certain targets.

Another $3.1 million will come from investor funds, but it is unclear where the remaining $157 million will come from.

The proposal also includes a letter of support from William Pierce, the University of Louisville’s executive vice president of research and innovation, saying the university facility could use biotech research labs, train students and work with startup businesses there. Pierce also stated that UofL would be interested in opening a primary care facility and offering STEM programming for high school seniors.

The biotech research park would create jobs paying $60,000 to $80,000 a year, according to the proposal.

Heritage Gardens

Denise Raine, a Shawnee resident, submitted a multifaceted proposal that includes a distribution center for agriculture-related businesses, acres of community gardens, two greenhouses and a laboratory focused on allergy research.

The proposal also features a riding stable for horses, horse riding operations, an equestrian therapy program, an outdoor ropes course, water spray park, walking paths, an event space and space for community programming.

“The ability for residents to work in their own neighborhood will be an utmost cherished benefit, allowing residents of West Louisville the opportunity to thrive within the communities that they live in,” Raine wrote in the proposal. “By these means Heritage Gardens (HG) will accomplish its chief aim – to transform attitudes, perceptions and behaviors, while contributing to greater financial stability and the promotion of sense of community.”

The estimated project cost is $178 million, the proposal states, and Heritage Gardens would seek various government funding sources, business sponsorships and resident contributions to pay for the development.

Raine noted in the proposal multiple potential partners who could operate programs or facilities at Heritage Gardens, but it is unclear if any have been approached.

Indoor track and field facility

The Louisville Urban League’s proposal focuses on a sporting facility. | Rendering by Reese Design Collaborative

The Louisville Urban League submitted a proposal for a $16 million to $24 million world-class indoor track and field facility.

“Our desire is a facility built that will attract regional runners and competition from across the country, including being able to host NCAA track and field events. We have considered and contemplated many proposals but none that we believe would have the economic or social impact of this vision,” Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, said in a letter as part of the proposal.

The Urban League noted that the facility would have an address on Muhammad Ali Boulevard, which is named after the greatest sports personality to come out of Louisville, and that sports could improve kids well-being physically and mentally, keeping them out of gangs and reducing pregnancy rates.

The facility would cover its own operating expenses — an estimated $495,000 — through rental fees to colleges, Jefferson County public schools and others. While it could serve as a track and field facility year-round, it also could be repurposed for other sports by covering it in removable turf, the proposal states, which offers another potential rental revenue source.

The sports facility would attract restaurants and hotels to cater to families and athletes traveling to Louisville for various tournaments, according to the proposal.

The Urban League’s development consultants include well-known developers Valle Jones and Tim Mulloy, who will help the organization pull together a funding package for the project, which would include corporate sponsorships, social impact investors, philanthropy and Community Reinvestment Act monies from banking partners, the proposal states.

University of Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich also has committed to help with the project.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]