The story of one of Louisville’s fastest growing neighborhoods and a look at what’s next

NuLu is one of Louisville’s most vibrant and popular neighborhoods. It is known for its galleries, breweries, restaurants, festivals and now its diversity. WLKY sat down with NuLu Business Association President Rick Murphy to talk about the history of what was once the Eastern Market District and where it is headed from here. “I think we’re just going to continue to see growth,” Murphy said. “I would say the last 15 years is when the big investments started coming in.” Murphy has been around much longer – he moved his advertising business to the area 26 years ago. Since then, under his leadership, things have really taken off. Murphy says that in the 1990s the district saw tens of millions of dollars in investment, while today that figure is in the hundreds of millions. Today, the area just east of downtown Louisville is home to what Murphy calls “a real entertainment zone.” NuLu has five craft breweries, two distilleries, 15 restaurants, over 25 Airbnbs and a handful of hotels. Amid unprecedented growth, came 2020. NuLu faced not just the pandemic, but unexpected criticism among black activists who were calling for more diversity in the neighborhood. The NuLu Business Association Board responded by creating the NuLu Diversity Empowerment Council and brought in Andre Wilson to lead it. Wilson said it was an important and necessary undertaking, and it all started with conversation and education. “It’s so important for us to step back and ask ourselves, ‘What does the makeup look like and reflect the area we serve?’ And if it’s not, then you have to change,” Wilson said. He says the efforts are paying off. “We’ve seen people increase their brands, and brands of black entrepreneurship — and that means so much,” Wilson said. “We’ve seen an increase in black businesses entering NuLu, but also the black population coming in and gaining experience.” Wilson also said they’ve worked to incorporate black-led entertainment like the African dance troupe that performed at a NuLu festival, as well as a local DJ and now has a regular gig at the bar. Garage. The council’s goal, Wilson said, is to infuse the culture and expose black businesses to a new consumer base. “I really think we’ve done a great job. I think so many great things have happened, and not just because of the requests, but the conversation. It’s a long fight, but it’s a fight for fix it,” Wilson said. When it comes to surviving the pandemic, Murphy thinks NuLu was one of the first neighborhoods to make a comeback. “COVID really hurt us for two years,” Murphy said. “But all of a sudden we saw this rebound which I think was partly COVID-related with all these visitors wanting to travel but not wanting to fly.” Murphy said that based on credit card receipts, they were able to determine that a large portion of the business came from people in surrounding cities like Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Nashville. So what’s next for NuLu? Murphy expects more growth as at least six construction projects are underway in the neighborhood. the whole community that we weren’t doing before,” Murphy said. He said diversity and inclusion will remain top priorities. The next big event at NuLu is NuLu Fest on Saturday September 24th. The event is free. You can find more information here.

NuLu is one of Louisville’s most vibrant and popular neighborhoods. It is known for its galleries, breweries, restaurants, festivals and now its diversity.

WLKY sat down with NuLu Business Association President Rick Murphy to talk about the history of what was once the Eastern Market District and where it is headed from here.

“I think we’re just going to continue to see growth,” Murphy said. “I would say the last 15 years is when the big investments started coming in.” Murphy has been around much longer – he moved his advertising business to the area 26 years ago.

Since then, under his leadership, things have really taken off. Murphy says that in the 1990s the district saw tens of millions of dollars in investment, while today that figure is in the hundreds of millions.

Today, the area just east of downtown Louisville is home to what Murphy calls “a real entertainment zone.” NuLu has five craft breweries, two distilleries, 15 restaurants, over 25 Airbnbs and a handful of hotels.

Amid unprecedented growth, came 2020. NuLu faced not just the pandemic, but unexpected criticism among black activists who were calling for more diversity in the neighborhood.

The NuLu Business Association Board responded by creating the NuLu Diversity Empowerment Council and brought in Andre Wilson to lead it.

Wilson said it was an important and necessary undertaking, and it all started with conversation and education. “It’s so important for us to step back and ask ‘what is makeup? [of a business district] look and reflect the area we serve? “And if it’s not, then there has to be a change,” Wilson said.

He says the efforts are paying off.

“We’ve seen people increase their brands and brands of black entrepreneurship — and it means so much,” Wilson said. “We’ve seen an increase in black businesses entering NuLu, but also the black population coming in and gaining experience.”

Wilson also said they have worked to incorporate black-led entertainment like the African dance troupe that performed at a NuLu festival, as well as a local DJ and now has a regular gig at the bar. Garage.

The council’s goal, Wilson said, is to infuse the culture and expose black businesses to a new consumer base.

“I really think we’ve done a great job. I think so many great things have happened, and not just because of the requests, but the conversation. It’s a long fight, but it’s a fight for fix it,” Wilson said.

As for surviving the pandemic, Murphy believes NuLu was one of the first neighborhoods to make a comeback.

“COVID really hurt us for two years,” Murphy said. “But all of a sudden we saw this rebound which I think was partly COVID-related with all these visitors wanting to travel but not wanting to fly.”

Murphy said that based on credit card receipts, they were able to determine that a large portion of the business came from people in surrounding cities like Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Nashville.

So what’s next for NuLu? Murphy expects more growth as at least six construction projects are underway in the neighborhood.

“I think it’s a really, really bright future. The neighborhood is getting better every day to take care of it. We’re able to do things for the whole community that we weren’t doing before,” Murphy said.

He said diversity and inclusion will remain top priorities.

The next big event at NuLu is NuLu Fest on Saturday September 24th. The event is free. You can find more information here.

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