Throughout the 20th century, West Louisville became a thriving commercial and residential community, and perhaps more importantly, the epicenter of Louisville's civil rights movement.
Out of its segregated roots, the foundation was built in West Louisville for local African-American activists to fight against discrimination in public facilities, in schools, and in housing. In the late 1960's, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. joined local activists in holding demonstrations for open housing in West Louisville, leading to an open housing ordinance being passed in 1967.
In recent years, however, many of the area’s middle-class residents have left for neighborhoods on the south and east ends of Louisville, a trend which negatively impacted the West End's economic strength. Years of disinvestment have led to economic and social challenges for the area. The community is destabilized by a lack of job opportunities, lack of new housing developments, and inadequate access to healthy, fresh food options.
With its years of neglect and immediate proximity to downtown, Russell is a clear choice for revitalization. Community Ventures has $8.5 million currently invested and aims to bring sustainable growth through both substantial commercial and residential development. The first critical step in this process of redevelopment is the creation of Chef Space, paying homage to the former Jay's Restaurant, which previously occupied the facility.