Rev. Charles Elliott and the Concerned Pastors of Russell have thrown their weight behind a $200 million proposed research park at Heritage West, a vacant site at 30th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
The former planning commissioner and owner of Turner Realty and Management, Clifford Turner, is the developer behind the proposal. He wasn’t at the press conference Thursday morning but told Insider that he planned to submit a proposal to the city before the Monday deadline.
Following the breakup of the West Louisville FoodPort project, Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government officials called on developers to submit possible plans to redevelop part or all of the 24-acre site. The deadline is May 22. The city then plans to share the submitted proposals and gather resident feedback on them.
Despite not having seen any of the proposals other than Turner’s, Elliott said: “I think this is the best one. I don’t think they can beat it.”
Elliott and Rev. A.W. Buie offered some details about the project at the press conference. The $200 million proposal includes state-of-the-art laboratories, 24-hour child development facilities and a children’s lab, followed by future development of a biotech museum, training centers, amphitheater, grocery store/farmer’s market and satellite buildings for the University of Louisville and Jefferson Community and Technical College.
The project focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship, manufacturing and education, Buie said, telling those listening, “Get behind this project.”
Elliott said Turner, who he’s known for many years, approached him with details about the proposal and how Elliott’s Jesus and a Job program could fit into the project, which Elliott said would create 200 jobs paying $60,000 to $80,000 a year.
“I am hoping this one will work, and I believe it will,” he said. “I feel comfortable to get behind him 100 percent.”
Elliott said he wanted to hold a press conference about something positive in the community given the number of homicides that had taken place this year, many of them in a West Louisville neighborhood. The homicide rate so far this year is on track to beat last year’s already record numbers.
“When I was marching with Dr. King, it was the Ku Klux Klan killing us. Now, it’s us killing each other,” he said, adding that more policing isn’t the answer, but investment and job creation in West Louisville is. “I am concerned about making sure that we use everything we can to put these young men to work and let them take out their family. They won’t be selling drugs; they will be working.”
Turner said in a phone interview that he was out of town and would be busy finishing up the proposal for submission to the city. He also stated several times that it was Elliott’s press conference, not his own.
He told Insider that he would be happy to talk about his proposal once it’s submitted.
“That is a major, major type effort,” Turner said of the redevelopment of Heritage West.
He later noted that he hosted four community meetings while creating his proposal to gather input from West Louisville residents. “The community is just elated,” Turner said.
City leaders have been criticized in the past for not getting comments from nearby residents on major development projects. The city has been working with the West Louisville Community Council, which was created as part of the West Louisville FoodPort project, to gather feedback about what should be developed at Heritage West.
Insider reached out Ramona Lindsey, an active member of the West Louisville Community Council, who declined to comment on Turner’s proposal.
“I think it’s premature to discuss any proposals …when we haven’t been able to see all the proposals,” she said.
The property is the district of Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton (D-5). Hamilton said she hasn’t talked to Turner yet and only knows what she read in the media.
“I know there are a lot of other proposals that will be coming in,” Hamilton said. “I just want to see what’s out there.”
During the Thursday press conference, Elliott also took the time to give a shout-out to developers Frank and Teresa Bridgewaters for their work to redevelop a site at 18th Street and Broadway. Walmart originally pulled out of developing the property, and MainSource Bank filed a lawsuit asking a judge to foreclose on the lot.
However, after the foreclosure suit was filed against the Bridgewaters, Passport Health came in and announced that it would buy the property from the Bridgewaters and move its headquarters there.
Insider tried to talk to the Bridgewaters following the press conference, but Teresa Bridgewaters said, “This is their day,” as she and her husband quickly walked to their car.