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Official opening of the NuLu market in Louisville

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NuLu Marketplace had its grand opening on Wednesday with nearly 100% of the room filled with local small businesses.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. A massive business center in the East Market and Main Streets shows Louisville that there is a light at the end of the tunnel after achieving a vision during a pandemic. NuLu Marketplace had its grand opening on Wednesday with nearly 100% of the room filled with local small businesses.

“The majority of people are local, they’re small businesses, they’re entrepreneurs and startups,” developer Mo Deljoo said.

The vision of using old buildings to breathe new life into NuLu began two years ago.

“I think this will be one of the most significant redevelopments in the whole country,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “It already is, but as people start to see what’s going on here, it was a difficult project.”

Deljoo has remained persistent despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Every day and every night we had to eat and breathe here to make sure that happened,” said Deljoo.

As protesters called for racial fairness and more diversity in one of Louisville’s most popular business communities, NuLu Diversity Empowerment Council chairman Andre Wilson took action.

“We need to empower ourselves, we need to provide resources, we need a business incubator, we need to educate,” Wilson said. “So we did a diversity training, talking about microaggressions, gentrification.”

NuLu only had one black-owned business six months ago, but today it has four, according to Wilson.

“I would probably say that by the time you get into the fall with our business incubator, we’ll be looking at around 15 to 20,” Wilson said.

The market offers food, bars, fashion, art, a speakeasy, offices, and Airbnb rentals. The goal is to get more people to shop and explore NuLu as the neighborhood continues to grow.

“We are a community place where everyone is welcome, everyone can find a place where they want to eat, drink or relax,” said Matt Bolus, owner of Torino’s Sandwich Bar and Gertie’s Bar.

Bolus opened Gertie’s Bar in Nashville and decided to return to his hometown of Louisville to bring the business to NuLu.

Some of the businesses in NuLu Marketplace opened months ago, while others opened in April.

“We’ve actually been looking for the right space here in Louisville for over five years and we’ve looked at the buildings, I mean, all around town,” Ben Self said of West Sixth Brewing.

Melissa Huff opened her spot just a week before the pandemic ended in March 2020.

“I was literally in shock, I mean it took so long to get that space because the space was just a blank shell,” Huff said. “Things are not going as fast as we thought they would be, but hey, now that things are opening up to the market and things are improving on the Main Street side, things are going a lot better.”

To start increasing foot traffic in the area, NuLu Marketplace will be hosting a live music series starting on Saturday and every second Saturday in April.

Contact journalist Senait Gebregiorgis at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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