The announcement last week that the city had purchased 30 acres in west Louisville with the purpose of redeveloping it spotlights a key issue for job creation in Louisville—the lack of large swaths of land that can be used for advance manufacturing.
The city is buying the acreage at 30th and Muhammad Ali Boulevard from the state for $1.2 million; $750,ooo of which comes from a settlement in an unrelated dispute and the rest from funds set aside for redeveloping brown space.
City officials believe efforts to have the land redeveloped with advance manufacturing—which would bring well-paying jobs—will be successful. The reason is that city officials frequently are approached by such businesses looking for 20 or 30 acres in Louisville, but the city just doesn’t have space available.
“I would say it’s almost virtually impossible to find 20 acres of vacant land contiguous inside the Watterson,” said Chris Poynter, spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer. “It’s not impossible, but it’s more likely you’ll find 20 acres somewhere beyond the Watterson and the Snyder. And then outside the Snyder, of course, there’s not really much developable land because of the topography.”
National Tobacco used to occupy the 30 acres, but the space has been vacant for years. A few years ago, Allied Ready Mix planned to move to the space because their current site was in the way of the Ohio River Bridges project, Poynter said. But the bridges project changed and Allied no longer needed to relocate; the state ended up with the land.
This created an opportunity for city leaders, Poynter said, because of the available acreage and a potential workforce surrounding the property. It’s on a rail line, close to downtown and an interstate—again, something rare for a large piece of contiguous land in Louisville today. The city’s plan is to find an advanced manufacturing business to take the space, which would bring well-paying jobs to west Louisville.
The land was cleared of structures more than a year ago. Now, Riverport will help the city market the land.
“We’re pretty confident because we have companies every day that want 20 and 30 acres in Louisville and we simply just don’t have it—so what they do is they end up locating across the river, they go to Bullitt County,” Poynter said.
“Any job created in the Louisville region is good for Louisville, but we want jobs created in our physical boundary of our city—to increase our tax base, to bring jobs for our citizens.”