The West Louisville FoodPort took a major step forward on Wednesday with the official signing of a development agreement between Metro Louisville, which provided the land for the project for one dollar, and Seed Capital KY, the developer of the FoodPort.
With the development agreement signed, the $56 million FoodPort project can move forward with construction. The project is located on a 24-acre site at 30th Street between Market Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
The site previously housed a collection of large brick warehouses on its southern end, but was cleared by the city in hopes of luring a manufacturer to the property. After years with no movement, the FoodPort is set to rejuvenate the barren fields in the Russell neighborhood with food production, distribution, processing, and more.
“This will be a one-stop place where consumers and food producers can meet,” Fischer said in a press release. “It’s a green, job-creation project.”
The FoodPort’s first phase is budgeted at $31 million. Seed Capital has already invested some $2.7 million on site design and environmental work—the project is being designed by the New York office of international architecture firm OMA. The first phase cost includes that investment and the price of the land, valued at $1.57 million, according to the city’s press release.
The first phase includes the $23.5 million indoor vertical farm, to be operated by Chicago-based FarmedHere. That facility, announced in January, will grow and process fresh produce year round in a controlled environment.
Metro Louisville is also contributing $350,000 for new sidewalks around the project site.
“The public/private/nonprofit partnership that makes this project possible is a model for the kind of collaboration that enables innovation and transformation beyond what would be possible through stand-alone efforts,” Caroline Heine, project director and co-founder at Seed Capital, said in a statement.
Once complete, the FoodPort is projected to generate 200 permanent jobs, with businesses moving in during phase one adding an additional 60 jobs. Seed Capital is working with the Louisville Urban League on strategies to hire workers from the surrounding neighborhoods—the site is located near the confluence of Russell, Portland, and Shawnee. A job fair is planned on April 26 from 1:00–3:00p.m. at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, 1701 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
“By creating opportunities for hundreds of new jobs for area residents, entrepreneurs, and community ownership, the FoodPort will help build a sustainable economy that will spur further investment and opportunities for wealth creation in west Louisville,” District 5 Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton said in a statement.
A community council comprised of 100 people from Russell and the larger community was convened by Seed Capital in January 2015. That body meets regularly to discuss the project and how it can have the strongest impact in the neighborhood.
Construction is required to begin by the end of this year, according to the development agreement, but Seed Capital said it expects a groundbreaking by October. The agreement also stipulates that the first phase must be complete by September 2017 or the land reverts back to Metro Louisville. The entire FoodPort is expected to be complete in May 2018.