Mayor Fischer and nonprofit Seed Capital KY sign West Louisville FoodPort development agreement
Construction on $56 million project to begin in Fall 2016; creating new 350 jobs
LOUISVILLE (March 23, 2016) – Mayor Greg Fischer and the nonprofit Seed Capital Kentucky today signed a development agreement that officially makes way for work to begin on the $56 million West Louisville FoodPort at 30th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard in the Russell neighborhood.
Fischer said the FoodPort – dedicated to the growing, aggregation, distribution, processing and storage of locally and regionally produced food – will revitalize a long-neglected block of land in west Louisville, while creating jobs for people who live nearby, enhancing Louisville’s tax base and resulting in architecturally significant buildings and spaces for active and passive recreation.
“This will be a one-stop place where consumers and food producers can meet,” Fischer said, adding that the project complements his administration’s goal of giving every citizen of Louisville access to fresh, healthy, locally produced foods. “It’s a green, job-creation project.”
“We are excited to reach this important milestone in the development of the West Louisville FoodPort,” said Caroline Heine, of Seed Capital. “As stewards of this property, we have been entrusted to work with our neighbors to transform it from its current state as a barren brownfield into a living, dynamic, productive asset for our community.
“The public/private/nonprofit partnership that makes this project possible is a model for the kind of collaboration that enables innovation and transformation beyond what would be possible through stand-alone efforts,” she said. “We are grateful for the partners who have worked to bring us to this point, and look forward to working together to bring the FoodPort to life.”
Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, who represents the 5th District, where FoodPort is located, described it as “a transformational project that will have a major community and economic impact on the entire west Louisville community.”
“I’m excited that the mission for ownership and community involvement has been led by the FoodPort’s resident-driven Community Council, with members from Portland, Russell, Shawnee and other west Louisville neighborhoods, who have helped form, and will continue to shape, every aspect of this development,” Hamilton said. “By creating opportunities for hundreds of new jobs for area residents, entrepreneurs, and community ownership, the FoodPort will help build a sustainable economy that will spur further investment and opportunities for wealth creation in west Louisville, while providing space for farming, classes on cooking, nutrition and gardening, along with gathering spaces for public markets, education, arts, entertainment and cultural programming.”
The $56 million project involves a $31 million first phase of construction, including $2.7 million that Seed Capital already has invested on site design, an environmental assessment, and hiring a team of architects, engineers and landscape designers to plan the project, which is receiving national and international acclaim. The total also includes the value of the land ($1.57 million, according to the PVA), and a $23.5 million investment by FarmedHere, the country’s largest and longest-running vertical farm, which plans a year-round indoor farm and food processing facility there. With Metro Council approval, the city also will spend $350,000 on new sidewalks around the project site.
In all, FoodPort is expected to result in 350 new jobs – 150 temporary construction jobs, plus 200 permanent jobs. In addition, businesses relocating there in the first phase will bring another 60 existing jobs.
In partnership with the Louisville Urban League, Seed Capital is developing a strategy to hire as many people from the surrounding neighborhoods as possible. This includes an early opportunity for construction jobs. At least 20 percent of the contractors on the project will be minority; and 5 percent will be female. A FoodPort job fair for the construction jobs is planned from 1-3 p.m. April 26 at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, 1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.
Under terms of the development agreement, FoodPort construction must begin by the end of 2016, with completion by May 2018. Seed Capital has said work will begin by October.
Seed Capital also has established a Community Council made up of more than 100 residents of the neighborhood and community at large, which has met regularly since January 2015 to identify benefits that outline its commitment to serve the neighborhoods around the project.
“The beauty of this project – beyond the fact that it’s one of the largest investments in west Louisville in decades – is the work done to involve people who live in the surrounding community,” Fischer said. “For more than a year, Seed Capital has worked diligently to ensure that neighbors are involved in this project and will benefit from this project. That is a critical fact – the people who live in the neighborhood have helped shaped the FoodPort.”
Louisville Metro Government is making way for the project by deeding the property to Seed Capital for $1. The city’s total investment, $1.57 million in land and $350,000 in sidewalk improvements, is leveraged multiple times over in the $56 million project, making this a wise use of taxpayer resources, Fischer said.
In addition to hiring and other restrictions in the development agreement, the deed requires that Seed Capital obtain financing to complete the $31 million first phase of the project – site development and building construction — by September 2017, or see ownership of the land automatically reverted back to the city.
Read the full development agreement here.