Louisville’s premier entertainment district—Fourth Street Live—has been an important catalyst for downtown’s growth during the last decade, and the taxpayers, who helped build the entertainment district through various incentives, will be happy to learn that they have received more than a three-for-one return on their initial investment, according to an economic impact study released today.
Public costs for the project, spread over 20 years, will be about $26 million while the project will produce $80 million in state and local taxes. The complex, operated by the Cordish Company, employs 500 people on a permanent basis and created 600 jobs during construction.
“The study clearly shows that our investment in Fourth Street Live has been wise for our city and for the state in general,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “The complex, coupled with new hotels and attractions and the KFC Yum Center, have helped transform our downtown.”
The economic study, ordered by Fischer earlier this year to provide transparency and data on taxpayer investment in Fourth Street Live, was prepared by the University of Louisville.
The independent study concluded that the project “has inarguably revitalized downtown, with large crowed of restaurant and bar patrons at night and a bustling lunch business daily in the block. The foot traffic into the area seems to have had a spillover effect in adjacent areas, particularly to the north where new restaurants have opened over the past few years.”
Jim Wood, president and CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Fourth Street Live helps make the city competitive.
“Fourth Street Live has been instrumental in helping us attract hundreds of meetings, conventions and trade shows annually to Louisville. It is where hundreds of thousands of convention delegates walk to from their downtown hotels, the Kentucky International Convention Center or the KFC YUM! Center for lunch or dinner each day,” he said. “It is where many of our family vacationers go to after taking in the sites at any number of our area attractions. Fourth Street Live continues to play a vital role in the sustainability of our tourism industry.”
The economic impact report also notes that, prior to the complex’s opening, tourist and convention visitors cited the lack of entertainment and restaurants as their top complaint about downtown. The top complaint now is lack of retails and shopping.
“Fourth Street Live is certainly a benefit to the hospitality industry and specifically the Galt House Hotel due to the fact that it helps attract meeting planners. Meeting planners like to select cities that offer entertainment, restaurants and museums within walking distance of conference facilities so conference attendees have something to do after their day long sessions,” said Mary Moseley, CEO of the Al J Schneider, parent company of the Galt House Hotel.
According to the impact study, over 30 years, Fourth Street Live! will produce taxes including:
- $69 million for state government, largely through sales taxes;
- $12.6 million for city government;
- $7.8 million for Jefferson County Public Schools;
- $1.5 million for the Transit Authority of River City.
Ted Smith, director of the city Department of Economic Growth and Innovation, noted that Fourth Street Live -- like most other economic projects in Louisville -- benefits the state significantly.
“Louisville is not just the economic engine for the state, we are the rocket. Fourth Street Live is another example of how jobs and projects in Louisville benefit the other 119 counties in Kentucky,” Smith said.
Smith noted that the economic study only calculated direct benefits from Fourth Street Live that results in direct tourism expenditures.
“A conservative multiplier for indirect expenditures is 1.5 times that direct impact -- meaning state and local governments can expect to receive an additional $40 million in taxes during the next 30 years,” Smith said. “That would mean the total public benefit is more than $120 million.”
Donna Marquez, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Louisville, said Fourth Street Live has been important to her business.
“The complex has had a great impact on the Hyatt Regency Louisville in regards to weekend occupancy and some group business. Prior to the addition of this entertainment venue, our weekend occupancy struggled,” she said. “Guests love having this venue and being connected via pedway. They also find it convenient when they choose to dine outside of the hotel.”