Director's Take

Transitions image



Dear Friend of Downtown,

The company name Humana conjures a lot of different things for a lot of different people. Fortune 500 company. 40-year stalwart Downtown anchor. Large employer. Great insurance. So, the announcement they made earlier this month to vacate their iconic office tower to consolidate into one building surprised many.

However, the truth is, they have been shrinking their footprint in Downtown for the last decade, allowing remote work before remote work was even a thing. So, as the country started to return to the office after the pandemic, Humana basically let their employee workforce choose to stay at home.

Employers over the last three years have agonized over the decision of whether to force any kind of return to the office. Will they lose talent? Will people be unhappy? It is clear that people, not companies, have the power now, and are demanding flexibility. I’m not sure that’s the best thing for us collectively, but that is a different issue that I wrote about last year.

Humana’s decision is a tough pill to swallow, to be sure. Downtowns are the genesis of all cities, and as such, became cultural, entertainment, residential and office centers, as home to a wider diversity and density of people and uses than any other neighborhood. And homegrown companies matter because it’s usually their leaders who feel a connection, a responsibility, a pride for the cities in which they are located.

We still have a lot of great dedicated businesses in Downtown. We still have the iconic tower. And just like our beautiful buildings that were built in the late 1800s that adorn our streets now, their ownership and their uses changed over time. Downtown Louisville is going to be just fine.

LDP and the Mayor’s Office already have been working on ways to create more interesting spaces, public art, and improve infrastructure as the qualities that will attract young professionals. More than a dozen companies have recommitted to Downtown through a new lease or investment or moved *into* Downtown in the last two years, and there is a healthy pipeline of more companies interested in Downtown. A new state-allocated fund for residential conversion projects is looking hopeful, and three large city-owned parcels are undergoing due diligence by well-known and respected developers.

Transition is natural. Businesses change, and Downtowns change. And we are ready.

Subscribe Using The Form Below To Receive Future Director's Take Posts By Email

* indicates required