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Plans to bring community-owned grocery store, housing to Smoketown

A 2-acre, vacant lot in Louisville's Smoketown neighborhood could soon become a community hub.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There's some good news coming out of the Smoketown neighborhood in Louisville. A 2-acre plot of fenced-off land may soon see a revival, welcoming community members back in. 

The Community Foundation of Louisville announced a land donation, Wednesday to two nonprofits, the Louisville Association for Community Economics (LACE) and REBOUND, Inc. The two nonprofits say the land will provide those in Smoketown with community resources owned and managed by residents.

LACE intends to use its 1-acre donation, near Jackson Street, to open a community-owned grocery store called Louisville Cooperative Grocery.

"I hope you heard that word cooperative," Ron Gallo, CEO, and president of the Community Foundation of Louisville said during a press conference Wednesday. "Because this is about building wealth, not just providing food."

Also present at the press conference were LACE co-executive directors Tiffany Brown and Joseph Olusegun Askia Bowens.

"We really want it to be, just, a staple and community fixture that helps in honing people power," Brown said. 

She said the tentative plans for development include 15,000 square feet of grocery space, 3,000 square feet of retail space, and a community room that people can utilize for events and birthdays.

Nonprofit housing developer REBOUND, Inc. is receiving 1 acre of land located near Preston Street. It plans to use the property to facilitate a community land trust.

"Our goal to create and to facilitate the creation of a community land trust is one, to begin to gain and access land so that the residents in these communities can actually make the choices of what they actually want in their particular neighborhoods," Kevin Dunlap, executive director of REBOUND, Inc. said.

Both the plans for the grocery store and housing remain tentative at this time. 

LACE says it's currently looking to raise money for construction costs while REBOUND, Inc. is working to establish a resident-led land trust board to oversee the project.

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