The City Keeps On Changing
While visitors to Louisville may see it as one big city, lifetime residents speak of Louisville in terms of its expansive sections or neighborhoods: Okolona, J’town, Audubon Park, Russell, Fairdale, Pleasure Ridge Park, Portland, etc. Two specific districts —Germantown/Paristown and NuLu — have seen dramatic changes over the years and have become sought-after places to work, live, and recreate.
MILL BUILDINGS REIMAGINED
Although the Germantown and Paristown neighborhoods share a neighborhood association, they are two distinct sections adjacent to each other. Historically, French and German immigrants settled here and owned farms in the area, which starts at East Broadway in a point and branches into a triangle that connects along Goss Avenue. “This part of the city goes back to the land-grant era around the 1840s and 1850s,” says former alderman and longtime Germantown resident Steve Magre. Eventually, Louisville Cotton Mills, Hope Worsted Mills, and Bradford Mills were built in the late 1800s, which changed the look and feel of the area. While some parts of the area became more industrial, there was also a need for residential houses for the mill workers. Both the railroad and Beargrass Creek, because of the transportation access they provided, allowed the area to develop.
While the area is largely residential, there have been changes in recent years in terms of what housing looks like. The historic textile mills, for example, have been converted into stylish apartments: Germantown Mill Lofts along Goss Avenue and Bradford Mills Lofts on Reutlinger Avenue. Shotgun and camelback houses still line the streets, but many of them have been remodeled and updated. The area seems to be increasingly popular among younger people, although there are also longtime residents who call these neighborhoods home. Before COVID-19, Germantown/Paristown had become the site of some unique and highly popular destinations, whether a person was seeking a place to shop, a place to eat and drink, or a source for musical entertainment. Of course, now some restaurants, stores, and venues are re-opening slowly while others are still unable to open because of restrictions on crowd size.
A quick hop onto Yelp will point out some of the most well-loved places to check out if you’re in the Germantown/Paristown area. Restaurants including Eiderdown, Hammerheads, Come Back Inn, The Post, and Four Pegs are among those most raved about. Individuals seeking small, unique gifts could find gems at places such as Forage, a nursery and garden shop, Fleur de Flea Vintage Market, an indoor warehouse where vendors sell anything from vinyl to art deco, and Stoneware & Co. (known to lifetime Louisvillians as Louisville Stoneware), which has been designing and creating pottery since 1815. Old Forrester’s Paristown Hall on Brent Street opened in 2019 but has been hit hard by the pandemic because of the fear that large gatherings of people could increase the spread of the virus.
BRANDED AS THE NEW LOUISVILLE NuLu is also known as the East Market District and covers a stretch of downtown Louisville between Chestnut and Floyd going east to west that encompasses Main, Market, and Jefferson streets. Although it is considered its own unique area, City of Louisville documents indicate that it is part of the Phoenix Hill National Register Historic District. According to NuLu Business Association President Rick Murphy, this area was a hub of commerce in the 1800s and for many years until the suburbs began attracting people further out into Jefferson County and businesses moved to Fourth Street. Eventually, business owners and investors saw this area as a place that was ripe for renewal. While some anchors of NuLu had been there for years, such as Joe Ley Antiques, there were many vacant buildings that needed tender loving care. In the past several years, NuLu has become one of the places that visitors flock in the city.
“A lot of our businesses do analytics with their purchases. They track zip codes for their credit cards so they know where to advertise and where we can market. About 65-70 percent of the restaurants and retail sales are from outside Jefferson County and the city of Louisville,” Rick says. When the Kentucky International Convention Center was shut down, it impacted NuLu’s revenues, and COVID-19 has had a similar impact.
Like businesses all over the country, restaurants in NuLu have had to pivot, but there remains a loyal following. Harvest, RYE, Decca, Biscuit Belly, and Louisville Cream are just some of the sites foodies seek out when they visit the area. Kevin says some of the best places to find gifts in the city are in NuLu. Mahonia, Six Sisters Boutique, Red Tree, and Revelry are some of the more widely known spots, but there are hidden gems throughout NuLu’s streets.
In addition to being the site of eclectic restaurants and shops, the area is very walkable and bikeable, which is part of the reason young professionals have been seeking residences closeby. Apartment buildings, such as 310 at NuLu and The Friary, help make living close to NuLu easier.
More change is on the horizon for NuLu, including The Gateway to NuLu, a mixed-use building on East Market Street, and Church Key, a restaurant and event space that re-envisions Market Street United Methodist Church. West Sixth Brewing is setting up shop in a 120-year-old carriage house that will serve as a brewery, warehouse, and taproom. The NuLu Business Association is revamping its website to help improve visitors’ access to all things NuLu. Before the winter holiday shopping season, it expects to launch it with an interactive map to make navigating NuLu even easier.