Food Hubs: The Latest Trend in Mixed Use Development

Louisville is planning a food hub development project that will feature foods from regional growers and providers

What Happened?
Louisville is planning a food hub development project that will feature foods from regional growers and providers.

Louisville’s FoodPort project involves constructing a 24-acre food hub complex resulting from a public-private partnership and featuring mixed-use development strategies. The food hub will act as an aggregator, distributor and marketer of locally sourced food products that organizes offerings in a central location for residents to peruse and purchase. These local food promoters create economies of scale for small and mid-sized farmers to help them reach regional consumers more efficiently, while increasing access to fresh foods for local residents, CityLab reported.

Local nonprofit Seed Capital Kentucky is working with Louisville to make the food hub more than just a warehouse where growers can import goods and residents and businesses can purchase offerings. The food hub will also feature:

  • A kitchen incubator
  • Food truck plaza
  • Demonstration farm
  • Classrooms
  • Anaerobic digester to convert organic waste into usable energy

Because the food hub will do more than just display regional growers’ goods, but also house new features and services to support the industry, the construction will resemble a mixed-use development project. Existing businesses – such as restaurants and food trucks – will be able to set up shop on the food hub campus and work synergistically with the regional growers that participate, CityLab reported.

Furthermore, Louisville anticipates the development of the food hub will spur economic activity in the region. As part of a $120 million redevelopment project, the food hub will be built near new housing projects and bike paths making it easy for consumers to access the retail fronts. The food hub is expected to create 250 permanent jobs to the area, along with workforce development and education programs for long-term growth and sustainability, CityLab reported.

Sustainable Mixed-Use Developments
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, many communities will leverage smart growth and sustainable development best practices to construct mixed-use infrastructure that addresses multiple priorities for community revitalization. The EPA has teamed up with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation to help communities across the country:

  • Improve access to affordable housing
  • Increase transit options
  • Lower transit costs
  • Protect the local environment

This Partnership for Sustainable Communities is making investments in housing, transit, water and infrastructure projects at the local level to ensure new developments support economic growth, social equality and environmental responsibility in an effort to create sustainable cities. The partnership is designed to:

  • Advance economic opportunity and mobility
  • Help communities adapt to a changing climate
  • Provide support for ongoing sustainability projects

To achieve these long-term goals the Partnership for Sustainable Communities has created a list of livability principles for sustainable communities to focus on:

  • Provide more transportation options
  • Promote equitable, affordable housing
  • Enhance economic competitiveness
  • Support existing communities
  • Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investments
  • Value communities and neighborhoods

All three federal departments off a variety of grant funding opportunities for communities launching sustainability projects. Most recently, the EPA has announced its Assistance to Build Resistance, Pursue Revitalization program that aims to improve resilience to natural disasters and strengthen local economies while focus on public health and protecting the environment. The initiative connects municipalities with targeted technical assistance and tools to help implement sustainable growth strategies at the local level.

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