Louisville Development, Arts Initiatives on Display at Creative Cities Conference
April 29, 2002
A recent "Creative Cities Conference" in Louisville gave Mayor David Armstrong what every mayor wants and enjoys: an opportunity to showcase his city's recent development projects and arts initiatives for mayors and other officials representing cities across the country.
The April 10th'12th conference, convened by Washington'based Partners for Livable Communities, brought leaders from 14 cities to Louisville to share information on successful initiatives in areas such the arts, culture, amenities, and downtown development. Louisville was the third member city of the organization to host such a meeting.
The conference program included visits to several host city attractions:
The Louisville Extreme Sports Park, a just'opened 40,000 square'foot recreational complex built on a former brownfield site, includes outdoor bowls, ramps and other facilities for bikers, skateboarders and in'line skaters. A second phase of the park will include a 20,000 square'foot indoor skating surface.
Glassworks is a historic eight'story factory, which has been converted to 41 loft apartments, office space and commercial space. It includes an art'glass studio and restaurant.
Louisville Galleria/Fourth Street Live is a planned redevelopment of a 185,000 square'foot complex by the Baltimore'based Cordish Company. This project will include the reopening of Fourth Street to traffic (it had been closed as part of a previous development) and the addition of upscale shops, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas. The project establishes a downtown entertainment district, which can be closed off for open'air performances.
The Louisville Medical Center, located adjacent to downtown Louisville, is a large'scale medical research facility and includes the site of the world's first and second AbioCor Replacement Heart implants.
Also in the downtown area, the participants visited the Russell neighborhoodthe first neighborhood in Louisville in which large numbers of African Americans bought homeswhere the group was briefed on planned revitalization efforts, including significant street and other infrastructure improvements and the construction of over 50 new homes through the Million Homes Initiative, a partnership of The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Home Builders, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Participants were also shown plans for the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, which will be located in a renovated historic trolley barn in the Russell neighborhood. Mayor Armstrong serves as a capital campaign co'chair for the Center, and the City provided $1.6 million for the purchase and remediation of the site. The completed Center will provide exhibits and educational programs on African American culture and history.
A highlight of the conference was the April 11th dinner at which the city officials were joined by boxing legend Muhammed Ali and wife Lonnie, both of whom grew up in Louisville. Lonnie Ali briefed the group on the Muhammad Ali Center which will be built in downtown Louisville. Its mission, she explained, is "to preserve and share the legacy and ideas of Muhammad Ali; to promote respect, hope, and understanding; and to inspire adults and children everywhere to be as great as they can be."
The following morning Mayor Armstrong convened a mayors' forum on the arts, bringing the mayors in the group together with leaders of Louisville's arts community. The mayors discussed arts and cultural activities in their cities, and described how arts are included in their economic development strategies. Also discussed were mechanisms for funding local arts programs, including dedication of a portion of sales taxes and an increases in hotel and motel taxes.
"It's important to talk about the contributions that arts initiatives make to the economic development of our cities," said Mayor Armstrong. "In tough times, when revenues are down and budgets are tight, our arts initiatives are often the first to face cuts. From a development standpoint, this can be counterproductive."
Joining Mayor Armstrong for the forum were Mayors Rhine McLin of Dayton, Richard Filippi of Erie, Russell Lloyd of Evansville, Ralph Smith of Roanoake, William Johnson of Rochester, Randy Kelly of St. Paul, and Roy DiGulio of Ventura.