The Courier-Journal (Louisville)

JCPS announces permanent location for Hudson Middle

School set to be built in California neighborho­od

- Krista Johnson Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK

J. Blaine Hudson Middle has found its permanent location at a high-profile property in the California neighborho­od.

On Friday, Jefferson County Public Schools leaders announced the historic school will be built at the intersecti­on of 18th Street and Broadway, where constructi­on abruptly halted on headquarte­rs for Passport Health Plan in 2019.

It will be the first new middle school building to be constructe­d in west Louisville in nearly 90 years.

Molina Healthcare, which purchased the property for $8 million in 2022, is donating the land to JCPS for the school but will “maintain a presence on the site” in the form of a “onestop help center” for health screenings and other programs, said Ryan Sadler, plan president for Passport Health Plan by Molina Healthcare.

JCPS’ facilities plans previously outlined a vision for Hudson as a 129,000square-foot building that would cost nearly $34 million. Superinten­dent Marty Pollio said the existing steel frame structure on the property will be removed, and the school will be built on the backside of the property. Constructi­on of the new school is expected to be completed by for the start of the 2026 school year.

In addition to the school and health center, Pollio said a future phase of constructi­on could bring JCPS administra­tive offices to the property.

The Hudson announceme­nt follows several other major developmen­ts in the racially segregated West End, including the Goodwill Opportunit­y Center and Norton West Louisville Hospital, as well as the coming Stellar Snacks

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL CLEVENGER/COURIER JOURNAL

“I get after decades of neglect that that’s not nearly enough, but it is a good start. And today shows we are going to continue on this trajectory — investing in these neighborho­ods, creating good jobs for this community.”

Gov. Andy Beshear

production facility that anticipate­s creating 350 jobs.

“I get after decades of neglect that that’s not nearly enough, but it is a good start,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday. “And today shows we are going to continue on this trajectory — investing in these neighborho­ods, creating good jobs for this community.”

Hudson’s new location sits next to the newly built Perry Elementary, which opened last year and is connected to the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA.

The new middle school is named after the late J. Blaine Hudson, who grew up in the West End and was a dean and longtime professor at the University of Louisville, where his work focused on African American history.

Hudson Middle was born out of the district’s new student assignment plan, which offered West End families the choice of sending students to schools closer to their homes for the first time in decades. The school opened in August 2023 at the former Wheatley Elementary on 17th Street — accepting only sixth grade students in its first year — and has quickly outgrown that location’s optimal capacity.

The school would ideally serve a maximum of 470 students but is expecting to welcome 587 students this August, according to the district’s projection­s. To deal with this capacity issue, Pollio said Hudson and Young Elementary will swap sites in the 2024-25 school year, with Hudson students moving into the Young Elementary building on Muhammad Ali Boulevard and Young students moving into the Wheatley building.

It is unclear what JCPS intends to do with the Wheatley Elementary building long term.

The school opened in 1961, and some residents told The Courier Journal they’d prefer JCPS to keep Hudson there to maintain it’s legacy within the California neighborho­od, as well as to avoid another empty building or bad developmen­t.

Young students could potentiall­y stay in the location, but the district would then need to figure out what to do with the Muhammad Ali Boulevard building. Callahan said the district has no plans to sell the property once Hudson students are moved. But she said “no decisions have been made yet” about what the district will do with the building.

Business reporter Matthew Glowicki contribute­d to this report. Contact Krista Johnson at kjohnson3@gannett.com.

 ?? PHOTOS BY MICHAEL CLEVENGER/COURIER JOURNAL ?? In the shadow of a former Passport Health building, state, local and JCPS dignitarie­s turned dirt at the location for the new J. Blaine Hudson Middle School to be built at 18th and Broadway in the California neighborho­od. Molina Healthcare, which purchased the property in 2022, announced Friday that it would donate the land to JCPS for the school. It will be the first new middle school building to be constructe­d in Louisville's West End since the 1930s.
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL CLEVENGER/COURIER JOURNAL In the shadow of a former Passport Health building, state, local and JCPS dignitarie­s turned dirt at the location for the new J. Blaine Hudson Middle School to be built at 18th and Broadway in the California neighborho­od. Molina Healthcare, which purchased the property in 2022, announced Friday that it would donate the land to JCPS for the school. It will be the first new middle school building to be constructe­d in Louisville's West End since the 1930s.
 ?? ?? Members of the Central High School drum line entertain the crowd.
Members of the Central High School drum line entertain the crowd.
 ?? ?? Jeronda Majors, principal of J. Blaine Hudson Middle School, delivers remarks after Molina Healthcare gifted JCPS property along Broadway to create a new middle school.
Jeronda Majors, principal of J. Blaine Hudson Middle School, delivers remarks after Molina Healthcare gifted JCPS property along Broadway to create a new middle school.
 ?? ?? Jeronda Majors, principal of J. Blaine Hudson Middle School, delivers remarks after Molina Healthcare gifted JCPS property along Broadway.
Jeronda Majors, principal of J. Blaine Hudson Middle School, delivers remarks after Molina Healthcare gifted JCPS property along Broadway.
 ?? ?? J. Blaine Hudson Middle School principal Jeronda Majors speaks on Friday. The school is projected to welcome 587 students this August.
J. Blaine Hudson Middle School principal Jeronda Majors speaks on Friday. The school is projected to welcome 587 students this August.

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