Mayor Fischer at todays CIZ announcement

Mayor Fischer at todays CIZ announcement

At a press conference at St. Peter Clavier Church in Smoketown this morning, Mayor Greg Fischer announced that  IDEAS 40203 and YouthBuild Louisville have received a $250,000 national arts grant to develop a unique Creative Innovation Zone (CIZ) in the neighborhood.


“Art makes people smile,” said Mayor Fischer, adding that he was blown away by the teamwork IDEAS 40203 and YouthBuild have shown on this initiative

The CIZ grant will help fund economic, educational and environmental infrastructure development in the Smoketown community led by artists and entrepreneurs.

The CIZ is an eight-block zone bounded by East Broadway, South Shelby Street, East Breckenridge Street and Floyd Street and includes the Sheppard Square development. More than 60 families have returned to Sheppard Square and more than 200 more residences are under construction.

“This is an exciting opportunity to directly engage and empower new and returning residents of Smoketown,” Fischer said. “The ArtPlace America grant and the Creative Innovation Zone will help fund and add to the resurgence and momentum already happening through the HOPE VI revitalization that is rapidly unfolding at Sheppard Square, which will have a ripple effect throughout adjoining neighborhoods.”

The Louisville CIZ was one of 55 grants chosen out of 1,300 applications. According to IDEAS 40203 co-founder Josh Miller, the final step of the screening for the grant involved the chief creative officer for the city of Philadelphia coming for a site visit; while in town, he reportedly said that outside of San Francisco, he’d never been to a city with a more diverse group of techies, makers, artists, entrepreneurs and city officials who are “at the table.”

The CIZ has three main focuses: education — especially in digital literacy and green space development — with an emphasis on public art, and business development. The Quality of Life Action Plan developed by New Directions Housing Corp. in 2010-11 identified those three needs as “pillars” for the revitalization of the Smoketown neighborhood.

Press conference crowd

Press conference crowd

Theo Edmonds, IDEAS 40203 co-founder, called this “an art project that creates jobs.” Part of the plan includes two cohorts of four national artists/innovators-in-residence for the neighborhood. The first cohort will arrive in the fall and will live in or near and work in the Smoketown neighborhood. This will be an opportunity for “creators to lead and leaders to create,” Edmonds said.

Louisville luminaries in attendance for the announcement included Barbara Sexton Smith, former Fund for the Arts CEO, Chef Edward Lee, and Anthony Smith, director of Safe Neighborhoods.

According to the news release, Smoketown was Louisville’s first established African-American neighborhood and the Sheppard Square housing project was constructed in the 1940s. In 2011, Sheppard Square was demolished by the Louisville Metro Housing Authority through a federal HOPE VI grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This made way for a $100 million development project creating new energy-efficient, mixed-income housing, thus accelerating the need for new infrastructure development.

Lynn Rippy, executive director of YouthBuild, also announced that GE Appliance Park leaders have decided that company will do its day of service in Smoketown; 800-1000 workers will converge on the neighborhood this fall to revitalize the streetscape at Preston Street and Broadway.

Creative Innovation Zone Partners:

Application Partners:
IDEAS 40203 (Lead applicant)
YouthBuild Louisville (Fiscal agent)

Key Partners:
The Residents of Smoketown
Louisville Metro Commission on Public Art
Louisville Metro Housing Authority
Louisville Metro Department of Economic Growth and Innovation
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Kertis Creative
GE FirstBuild
Residency Unlimited (Brooklyn, NY – IDEAS 40203’s Sister Organization)