A vertical farm is the latest addition to the West Louisville FoodPort. | Courtesy of FarmedHere

A vertical farm is the latest addition to the West Louisville FoodPort. | Courtesy of FarmedHere

Work is officially ready to begin on the $56 million, 24-acre West Louisville FoodPort at 30th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard in the Russell neighborhood.

Nonprofit Seed Capital KY created the food port project, which will fill a longtime vacant lot created when Philip Morris shut down its Louisville factory. Seed Capital KY will purchase the property from the city for $1.

Seed Capital KY signed a development deal with Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government, which states that construction must start this year and finish by May 2018. Officials with the nonprofit expect to break ground in October and finish a substantial portion of the project by September 2017, according to a news release. (Check out the entirety of the deal below.)

In addition to selling the land for a buck, the city has agreed to invest $350,000 in sidewalk improvements at the site.

“We are excited to reach this important milestone in the development of the West Louisville FoodPort,” Caroline Heine, co-founder and project director of Seed Capital KY, said in the release. “As stewards of this property, we have been entrusted to work with our neighbors to transform it from its current state as a barren brownfield into a living, dynamic, productive asset for our community.”

Once complete, the West Louisville FoodPort project will include a vertical farm, a community garden, educational opportunities, retail space, a playground and common area for neighborhood residents, and plenty of space for farmers and food-related businesses to collect, distribute and package products.

“This will be a one-stop place where consumers and food producers can meet,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in the release. “It’s a green, job-creation project.”

There also is some acreage left for future development after Seed Capital KY decided to drop an alternative energy facility following protests from west Louisville residents.

The food port will create 350 jobs, including 150 construction jobs and 200 permanent positions, according to the release. Businesses relocating to the food port will add another 60 jobs.

At least 20 percent of the contractors on the project will be minorities, and 5 percent will be women. Seed Capital KY will work with the Louisville Urban League to find residents in west Louisville to fill as many of the jobs as possible, the release states.

The West Louisville FoodPort is hosting a job fair for the construction jobs from 1 to 3 p.m. on April 26 at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, 1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.

Food Port Agreement