'It's ready to go,' Could old tobacco company site spark West End rebirth?


by Joe Arnold


Posted on January 25, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 25 at 8:01 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- It was labeled as an "economic development announcement," yet is actually a high-profile and strategic real estate listing.

Louisville Metro is marketing the former Russell Neighborhood home of National Tobacco Company, which vacated the thirty acre site in 2009 after more than a century in West Louisville.

"It's ready to go, all the infrastructure is here," said Larry McFall, who will market the property in addition to similar duties at the Riverport commercial and industrial complex in Southwest Louisville.

"The zoning is here," McFall continued.  "It's zoned EZ-1 which gives you the heavy industrial zoning list.  It's ready to go."

Up until now - Mayor Greg Fischer (D-Louisville) said when the city has recruited companies to invest in West Louisville, they repeatedly ran into the same obstacle -- not enough land in one spot to build a plant, a factory or an office.

But the site bounded by West Market Street on the North and Muhammad Ali Blvd on the south at 30th street is contiguous.

“This property is ideal and ready for development,” Fischer said. “The site is clear with no significant environmental issues. It’s on a rail line, abuts the interstate and is surrounded by a ready workforce.”

"It's got size. It's level," McFall said.  "All the utilities are in the streets adjacent to this site.  You've got the Norfolk Southern railroad over here.  It's ready to go to be fully developed."

"We're close to the expressway," Fischer added.  "We're seven minutes from downtown.  So, its a great opportunity. I'm confident a company is going to see this and say, 'This is the spot.'"

"We're hoping for a manufacturing company or something that's adding more value, a little higher wage scale as well," Fischer said.  "So, this could do everything from a pharmaceutical company, distribution company, manufacturing."

The goal is to stimulate West Louisville -- jobs.

West Louisville's Kentuckiana Works 1 stop shop at the Nia Center offers job counseling and training - that's where Paul Driggers was told about the West End property plan as he searched for a job.

"It's a great idea," Driggers said.  "because West Louisville needs jobs like everybody needs jobs, but West Louisville really needs it.  They need some industrial type jobs."

"If a major employer would locate in the West End, people would have an opportunity to maybe even walk to work," suggested Rob Jordan, a Kentuckiana Works manager.

"They would have more people that's living in the area to have jobs," added De'angelo Nunnally, "so then on top of that they can also improve the area that's surrounding the jobs.  It would make it a better living place for everybody."

It's a strategy Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton (D-5) hopes will jump start her West Market Street Corridor Project.

"Today's announcement shines a spotlight on West Market Street and West Louisville as a great place to do business and I can't wait for what's yet to come," Hamilton said.

Yet none of the officials would predict when a business would stake a claim on the property.

"In real estate you never know," Fischer said.  "It could be six months, it could be six years.  But the key is it's shovel ready.  When people, when companies are coming to town, they're looking to get to work right away.  This gives them that kind of opportunity."