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Theater coming to vacant Outer Loop space

Louisville Metro Council member James Peden put the plans in motion after seeing a community play in New Albany.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As many businesses close due to the coronavirus pandemic, one Louisville storefront is being eyed for a big purpose.

Behind the 'For Lease' sign where the ValuMarket on the corner of Fagen Bush Lane and Outer Loop sits is a large space that has sat vacant for 10 years.

"The space is 6,000 square feet of what was formally a movie gallery, and nothing has been in there since," Council member James Peden said.

Pre-coronavirus, Peden said roughly 25,000 cars would drive past this spot a day, unaware of what treasures the spot might hold.

"As soon as we walked in the first time, the theater folks saw it, they said 'Alright here's the ticket counter, that's concessions, we're just going to utilize what's there," Peden said.

Peden put his plan in motion after seeing a community play in New Albany. He said he wanted to bring that same kind of togetherness to his constituents, finding this spot in late December to early January.

By February, he and council member Barbara Sexton Smith had to come up with funding. Originally, they were using $25,000 from peden's discretionary fund, and money from the Fund for the Arts, but life hit.

The Fund for the Arts pulled their donation due to the strains of coronavirus.

"I asked for permission if District 4 can add funding from our discretionary funds to this theater project, and as i spoke about that in the meeting other council members lined up in the cue to add their funding," Sexton Smith said.

The lease will not be signed until contractors can get into the building. Peden said they need lighting, guest bathrooms and a stage. Both Peden and Sexton Smith say they're cautiously optimistic.

"This is more than a theater," Sexton Smith said. "It's visions of hope, it will provide jobs and entertainment and it will create inclusion and diversity of performance of venues and of audience."

The original soft open for the theater was expected to be this summer, but Peden said he thinks they may be looking at November.

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