A new ordinance before Louisville Metro Council would create a designated entertainment space along Whiskey Row.
The proposal, sponsored by Metro Council President David James and Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, would establish a new entertainment destination center on Washington Street between First and Second streets that could be temporarily closed for outdoor music, dining and beverage options in what the ordinance calls a unique and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.
The ordinance notes that property owners along Whiskey Row recently joined forces under Whiskey Alley Inc. to promote Whiskey Row’s residential, retail, dining and hospitality options as a world-class destination that will “enhance the experience” for visitors to the KFC Yum Center, the Kentucky International Convention Center and other downtown attractions.
“I think this is a great opportunity to create another space in the central business district where we can have an entertainment gathering area in a densely populated area for activities and events,” Sexton Smith said by phone.
If approved by Metro Council, Whiskey Alley Inc. could apply for an official license under the designation from the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to host special events in the space.
Sexton Smith said this type of entertainment concept has been adopted in other cities, and she believes it would give the city another gathering area to complement spaces such as Fourth Street Live and Logan Street Market in Shelby Park.
“It’s a third option, and it’s a different size and configuration from those other two locations,” she said.
Sexton Smith also said this type of gathering area could become a hot spot for conventions and companies coming into town for visits. The ordinance also argues it will aid Louisville’s economic growth and tourism efforts.
Most of Whiskey Row between First and Second streets is now finished with the recent opening of the 12-story Hotel Distil and Moxy. The dual-branded hotel has added hundreds of hotel rooms to the block alongside new food and beverage concepts, including upscale steakhouse Repeal, Zombie Taco and Bitters End bar.
Distil and Moxy joins projects such as Old Forester Distilling Co., 111 Whiskey Row and Whiskey Row Lofts, all of which have already stimulated interest through a series of restaurants, bars, retail uses and offices.
111 Whiskey Row is home to several commercial tenants, including Duluth Trading Co., The Hall on Washington and Mightily. Together, developers have invested $200 million or more into Whiskey Row during the past decade.
Paired with the site’s history dating back to Prohibition, the components all tie together to give Louisville a unique experience to share with the world.
“If you go to Nashville, you want to go to honky tonks, right? If you go to Memphis, you want to hear the blues. And if you go to Louisville, you want bourbon. And you want Whiskey Row. You want local. You want to know what’s cool here,” said Julie Lavalle Jones, one of the chief developers behind Whiskey Row’s resurgence, earlier this year.
The ordinance was introduced during Thursday’s Metro Council meeting and has been assigned to the labor and economic development committee.