Louisville Metro Councilman David Tandy, D-4, is encouraging Mayor Greg Fischer and the Cordish Companies to put more minority-owned businesses in Fourth Street Live.
The push comes weeks after Fischer backed Tandy’s proposal to give the Baltimore-based developer an $850,000 forgivable loan to move a new tenant into office space nearby the entertainment district. The ordinance was pulled and the loan fell through, however, when it was learned the business was The Learning House, which is already housed downtown and was relocating only a few blocks.
In response to mounting questions from city lawmakers, Fischer ordered an economic development study of Fourth Street Live to review job creation, spin-off development and tax revenue generated for the city.
Tandy is chair of the Labor and Economic Development Committee and Fourth Street Live is in his district. He says he would like to see more local businesses and developers involved in Fourth Street Live and the surrounding corridor, adding the study’s recommendations should also look at the lack of minority-owned business in the district.
“There has not been any significant minority business participation whether it be in the Fourth Street Live area or for that matter in the surrounding area, which I think is a part of the continued vitality and strength of a community is to make sure that all parts of our community participate in the development and growth and prosperity of the local economy,” he says.
The $10,000 study of the entertainment district will be conducted by the University of Louisville and is expected to be complete late summer. It will also examine Fourth Street Live’s economic impact on the city’s convention and tourism business and Metro Government’s investments and returns on incentives for the project.
Over the years, several civil rights leaders have complained about Fourth Street Live’s dress code and claimed it is a discriminatory policy to keep African-American patrons out. Three years ago, an employee at the Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge filed a lawsuit alleging she was told to racially profile customers in the bar.
Tandy says Cordish is aware of those complaints and the perception problem in the black community, adding that’s an incentive for the developer to do more to encourage diverse patrons.
“I think it’s something that I have continued to raise to the Cordish Company and I’ve raised to others, there is a need to have a presence in that area where you have a restaurant or venue that caters to that particular demographic,” he says.
The former council president says he has discussed his concerns with Fischer’s office and Cordish officials.
A spokesperson for Fourth Street Live and Cordish were unavailable for comment.