Inside the brick walls of 2500 West Broadway, is west Louisville’s latest vehicle for change.
The Academy of Music Production Education and Development — better known as AMPED — is putting the finishing touches on the AMPED Innovation Center, a new multi-purpose building that will serve to extend the organization’s reach in the west end.
“So what I see in this place is hope,” AMPED Executive Director Dave W. Christopher Sr. said.
Christopher told WAVE News the building, which currently sits vacant on West Broadway, will be broken up into a business incubator, state-of-the-art event space and two student resource centers through partnerships with Jefferson County Public Schools and the University of Louisville.
“I came here to this building [last April] to lease 10,000 square feet to put businesses in,” Christopher said. “And I was talking to the owners, and he mentioned to me that they were selling the building. I walked outside and in that very moment I decided I’m going to buy this building.”
Christopher said funding for the project will likely come from a capital campaign. He said the goal is to raise $6 million.
“I believe that if I listen to God’s voice that I will be fine,” Christopher said. “And so, this is proof of that. Like, all these things that’ve happened, all these people that have come together to make this work, we’re talking less than a year.”
As if the project itself wasn’t exciting enough, the building it will be housed in is also a part of Louisville’s Black history.
The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1923 and became Universal Car Company. In 1973, Universal Car Company became Bob Smith Chevrolet and one of the first major car dealerships in Louisville to be owned and operated by an African American.
Fifty years later, an historically black building returns to its roots.
“We first saw the safe,” Christopher said. “There was a safe and then we started seeing this floor and then I started researching, and it was…it made it real for me, like this is where we need to be.”
A vehicle for change, housed in an old car dealership, that Christopher hopes will drive a city so known for being divided a little closer together.
“If I could stand at the 9th Street Divide and it no longer exist, I’m happy,” Christopher said. “And that’s the point of this that we want to make that nonexistent.”
Christopher told WAVE News the JCPS space — called Elev8 — is set to open in a few weeks. He said he’s hopeful UofL will be able to move in at some point in May.