The proposed FoodPort site is a 24 acre brownfield at the intersection of the Russell, Shawnee and Portland neighborhoods of West Louisville. Located at 3029 West Muhammad Ali Blvd, the site was the former location of the National Tobacco Company, which took ownership of the property in 1905, paying $2.2 million (today’s equivalent of about $56 million) – arguably one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Louisville at the time.
The West End’s submergence during the Great Flood of 1937 caused commercial relocation to higher ground, and new development to locate elsewhere. This economic disinvestment was further exacerbated by white flight, urban development, and the creation of the “Ninth Street Divide.” The West End is now associated with concentrations of poverty, diet-related diseases, numerous vacant and abandoned properties, shorter life expectancies, and lack of fresh food access. Low-income residents often rely on the unhealthy, processed foods found at convenience stores and fast food chains, and are subject to health complications that come with this diet. The FoodPort aims to change this trajectory, introducing commercial enterprise and extending the reach of healthy, regional food distribution. Seed Capital KY sees job creation in low-income communities as a necessity to expand access to better food, by first providing economic development empowerment for these neighborhoods.
The WLFP project will bring over 300 living wage jobs to West Louisville, catalyzing economic change in the community, and spawning further such economic development in the area. Neighborhoods surrounding the site have a poverty rate of 24% compared to less than 6% for the rest of the city, median household income less than half that of the greater city, SNAP food benefit usage of 40%, and unemployment at rates 4X that of the city. Reclaiming this industrial space and infusing it with good jobs and green spaces, along community engagement and long-term options for community ownership, will positively and tangibly change the lives of its neighbors.