Meatpacking District in Manhattan
Meatpacking District in Manhattan
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Meatpacking District in Manhattan
Meatpacking District in Manhattan. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood is going through a period of transition. It’s been heated at times when dealing with issues like the JBS Swift slaughterhouse, but there’s no denying that Butchertown and its companion Nulu are transforming the area east of Downtown.

For a bit of perspective and a little entertainment, check out an article from 1997 on the Meatpacking District in New York when it was going through a similar change. The New York neighborhood has been completely transformed today, but about ten years ago it was a gritty and dirty place. Hat tip to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York.

While Butchertown and Meatpacking are two vastly different neighborhoods (I don’t want to get into a comparative analysis), there are still a few parallels. The article essentially asks, “Can lawyers and club kids and drag queens and butchers find happiness together in Manhattan’s meatpacking district?” That same question is being asked in Louisville.

As Vanishing NY pointed out with a bit of regret, the answer is no. Today, the old industry is nearly non-existent and the area is packed full of expensive restaurants and trendy hotels. What do you think Butchertown and Nulu will look like in 15 or 20 years? Read the entire New York magazine article at Google Books.

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Branden Klayko

7 COMMENTS

  1. Unfortunately, I think the outcome in Butchertown may be the same as Meatpacking. (As with Branden, I do not want to engage in a comparative analysis…nor am I even knowledgeable enough of the NYC situation to substantively comment).

    Just comparing the two from a “lawyers and club kids and drag queens” vs “butchers” standpoint, the Butchertown situation (to me, at least) seems doomed to outright dominance of one group over the other. The two sides are so staunchly entrenched that I see no peaceful harmony in the future.

  2. I don’t see the East Market and/or Butchertown area being successfully gentrified anywhere in the near future. This city and most of the new development happening inside of it seems to be focused all within the Highlands.

    Granted, I know that isn’t the whole truth and that there are plenty of restaurants and developments starting in other parts of town, but it seems to me like East Market, Butchertown, and Old Louisville as well, are really hard to sell to people.

    I mean just look at your Tuesday news roundup – there is ANOTHER pizza place opening up on Baxter in the highlands, there are two new pubs opening in the highlands, and I also heard through word of mouth that there is a Java Brewing company opening up across the street from Day’s Coffee House on Bardstown Rd in the highlands.

    DOESNT THE HIGHLANDS HAVE ENOUGH COFFEE SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS ALREADY? HOW ABOUT SHARING SOME OF THEM THE REST OF THE CITY?

  3. Blind Pig Gastro pub opening on Washington/Buchanon St soon
    Tilia Italian restaurant opening on Market next to Bodega and Felice
    Crush on Market Wine bar/Cask 52 Wine store/art gallery opening EMarket
    New Art gallery opening where Scout was.
    New Pizza place opening soon on E Market close to Green building
    Creation Gardens gourmet grocery store under construction soon E Market
    All season indoor/outdoor farmers market on Jefferson @ Old Disney tire
    Bluegrass Green Co. relocated to E Market From Baxter
    Hudson Home opening soon sign on building next Bluegrass Green Co.
    732 Social E Market
    White Oak @ Artemesia
    Mayan Cafe
    Red Tree
    Joe Leys
    Muths Candies
    Bostons Floral shop
    BBC taproom
    Zephyr Gallery
    Flame Run Gallery
    Swanson/Reed gallery
    at least 3 other art galleries
    Multiple Antigue stores
    Legacy Lofts construction begins soon including more retail spaces
    The Church Condominium project to be completed soon

    Still Think the E Market/E Main Butchertown area will not be upgraded in the near future? Old Louisville is a little trickier, mostly because it surrounded by neighborhoods than it in 360 degrees (if you include UofL as part of Old Louisville).

  4. Good point as far as restaurants/businesses are concerned, but I’m wondering if people are actually moving into the condos and apartments being planned in these areas? That’s what the hard sell seems like to me, because A – they aren’t affordable. B – There aren’t grocery stores close by. C – There are probably other reasons but I can’t think of them, heh.

    As far as Old Louisville is concerned, I’m just bitter because I feel that the neighborhood is really lacking in terms of a lot of things. For instance, we had Oak Street Pizza until the owner was robbed and shot, had to go to the hospital, and then couldn’t afford to reopen. What replaced Oak Street Pizza was ANOTHER corner store, as if there weren’t enough corner stores offering soda, cheetos, and candy in the neighborhood already.

  5. With none of the above comments even addressing the crux of the initial blog entry (be it intentional or just unintentional comment-subject drift), it really seems that the type of gentrification described (old residents, old industries, old trades, bluer collars booted to the curb) is a forgone conclusion.

    I certainly don’t want to start a flame-war or even engage in a Swift argument (I don’t take a stand) but, in addressing the overall “look” of the Butchertown area in 10-15 years, I think the writing is on the wall regarding who eventually prevails. Though peteQ’s exhaustive list is “technically” mostly East Market business district and Phoenix Hill, IMHO butchers don’t stand a chance long-term in Butchertown.

  6. What I meant to say is that Old Louisville is surrounded by neighborhoods worse than it in every direction. All of the neighborhoods natural commercial areas are located on its edges so this make for a challenging development situation. 4th and Oak could be really nice but this would require a major development that includes a grocery store at the Old Winn-Dixie site and rebuilding at least one of the two setback stores that now house Rite-Aid and a movie store. Because of the relative lack of residents in the area north of Old Louisville (SoBro) this is unlikely to happen in the near future. To the east of old Louisville is Shelby Park/Smoketown which could see some development in the near future. However I-65 borders these 2 neighborhoods which is likely to result in a permanent ghetto along its path. I don't know about you but I'm not living anywhere near an elevated interstate if I have a choice. Old Louisville does now have a nice Kroger, if a little small, close by in the Central Station shopping center. I know, completely of the topic but Old Louisville and its development is one of my favorite topics.

  7. I agree, Jeremy. I think the New York example offers a sort of crystal ball into Louisville’s future. It’s a little different as we have one giant company (Swift) where there were lots of little companies in Meatpacking that slowly went away. Here, there will likely be a lot of gentrification pressure that builds up before Swift can be dislodged to another location in Louisville.

    I appreciate the rundown of businesses in the area, Pete. The fact that most are in Nulu when there’s more housing (I believe?) in Butchertown is telling and points out that Butchertown still doesn’t have its own viable commercial core (which should grow along Story Avenue, if you ask me). Both neighborhoods share the same dynamics, though, but one had a more viable set of urban buildings to form a commercial core.

    Regarding the Highlands, it certainly has been the powerhouse of walkable neighborhoods and will continue to be, but as Brent points out, it does seem like many are willing to settle for one great walkable street rather than branch out into unexplored territory.

    I wouldn’t use the lack of a supermarket as an explanation for people moving into the city, though. There are walkable places to get supplies like the East Market Bodega, but that’s besides the point. The alternative is living in an area where you would have to drive a good distance to get to a grocery anyway, so living in the city and being forced to travel for food would be no different but still offers the great benefits of urban living. Besides, once there’s a critical mass of people a grocery store will undoubtedly follow and the problem will be solved.

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