Comparing Louisville to its competitor cities, the Downtown Development Corporation unveiled the first ever “State of Downtown” report to measure the city’ s benchmarks in a number of key areas.
Defined by the 40202 zip code, researchers showed that Louisville had 12 percent increase among downtown workers over the past decade, the largest among peer cities such as Charlotte, Indianapolis and Nashville.
Despite job growth during the national recession, downtown lags behind and is well below average in housing and retail stores.
The household population was just over 3,000 residents, ranking 11th out of 15 peer cities, dead last in home ownership with 5 percent and without any retail clothing stores or dry cleaners.
DDC executive director Alan DeLisle says the report serves as a gut check for decision-makers in the private sector and Metro Government.
“It’s great news that we’ve grown faster than anybody else in the last decade. But, we have some work to do still on the housing front. And we have some work to do on the retail front,” he says. “We are about ready to release another report that we’ve had done that is going to take a good, honest look at our retail potential downtown.”
Among its recommendations to spur change, the report stresses incubating local businesses, developing a “bourbon experience” linked to state tourism, developing market-rate housing, support construction of Museum Plaza and developing the area between Broadway to Fourth Street Live for local businesses.
Pointing out that downtown represents 17 percent of the city’s payroll, DeLisle hopes the report will ease financing for developers and attract retailers. Unlike suburban development, the head of the DDC says downtown already has amenities and attraction such as Museum Row, KFC Yum Center and Slugger Field.
“It’s about a leisure destination where people can enjoy the urban environment. We’ve already got that and we’ve got two theaters and several hotels already located in that area so I think we can do this ,” he says.
The agency expects to raise $5 million for loans to help pay for new retail and other development efforts.