After the closing of the Presbyterian Community Center in 2013, YouthBuild Louisville, IDEAS xLab and other partners began the visioning process to create a new community hub in the Smoketown neighborhood. Through arts and culture-based activities, and reiterated by neighborhood reports, the community identified priorities including a laundromat, place-based jobs, wealth building, affordable housing and for long-time residents to move into home ownership, and activities for children and young people after school and in the summer. These learnings led to our collaborative work to form the Smoketown Community Center.

The Smoketown Laundromat opened in August 2022 as Phase 1 of the Smoketown Community Center. This neighborhood amenity was made possible after acquiring the historic two-story building, the site of a former liquor store, from the Louisville Metro Housing Authority in 2017. From there, other partners such as Impact100, General Electric Appliances and Texas Roadhouse joined in on the project. Impact100 was the first investor into the project and critical to bringing other partners to the table.

As a neighborhood amenity, the Smoketown Laundromat contributes to improved access to services and community building in the neighborhood. Goodwill Industries of Kentucky has provided vouchers for low-incomes to access free laundry services, while the Library Foundation and Pam Greenwell have stocked the shelves with books for laundromat patrons to enjoy. Each week, the Laundromat serves more than 50 families per week.

"The site was a former liquor store which was very dilapidated and an eyesore in the neighborhood. When we asked the residents of Smoketown "What do you need?", the idea of the Smoketown Laundromat was born. Without all of our community partners, this would not have been possible and we are so grateful!"
- Lynn Rippy, CEO, YouthBuild Louisville
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