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Hudson Middle School to open permanent location in fall 2026 on long-vacant lot

Hudson Middle School Marquee
Giselle Rhoden
Hudson Middle is temporarily housed inside the former Phillis Wheatley Elementary School.

Jefferson County Public Sschools will build Dr. J. Blaine Hudson Middle School’s permanent location at a vacant site in west Louisville after a donation from Molina Healthcare.

For 20 years, 20 acres of land at Broadway and 18th Street has been vacant and undeveloped. That will change once Dr. J. Blaine Hudson Middle School opens its permanent location on the property by the fall of 2026.

The site was donated to Jefferson County Public Schools by Molina Healthcare, which purchased the $8 million property in 2022. JCPS and Molina plan to create new facilities there under a two-phase development plan, said JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio.

Phase 1: Hudson Middle School

Hudson opened in a temporary location last August in the California neighborhood as a part of a new JCPS student assignment plan. It’s meant to allow west Louisville middle and high school students to attend schools closer to where they live.

The middle school is currently housed inside the former Phillis Wheatley Elementary School on South 17th Street. JCPS officials were supposed to announce Hudson’s permanent location last year.

Pollio said JCPS is excited to work on the new campus to better serve students in the West End.

“Our kids at Hudson Middle School deserve to have the best. They deserve to have the best facility, the best teachers, the best resources, everything you possibly can have,” Pollio said at a news conference Friday.

Hudson is the first new middle school in west Louisville in more than 90 years. It’s one of 20 schools JCPS plans to create in the next decade, Pollio said.

Phase 2: Molina Health Center

In the second phase of the development plan, Molina Healthcare will “renovate an existing building” on the property to create a “One Stop Help Center,” according to Passport by Molina Healthcare plan president Ryan Sadler.

The facility would provide services like health risk screenings and new member orientations to Medicare and Medicaid members in the West End. The campus would also operate as a community engagement center for events like farmers’ markets and back-to-school giveaway drives, Sadler said.

Sadler said the plan comes from the feedback Molina received from community leaders and business partners, who said the area needs a facility that “serves everyone.” Most residents in west Louisville are Black and low-income, and often lack access to needed services due to a history of racist policies that affected development of the area.

“[This is] our commitment to this community,” Sadler said. “It's our obligation to the people we serve, and we're happy to do it.”

Passport by Molina Healthcare is the leading provider of Medicaid and Medicare for west Louisville residents.

Officials did not say when renovations will begin.

JCPS also plans to build an administrative building on the property.

Steel frame of a multistory building
Jacob Munoz
Passport Health Plan's former project has sat unfinished on Louisville's Broadway corridor since 2019.

The West End 'eyesore'

The sprawling site along the Broadway corridor has changed hands many times over the years, as different groups have tried to reinvent the former site of a Philip Morris tobacco plant.

The rusty beams that many in west Louisville have deemed an “eyesore” were meant to support one of the buildings on a massive corporate headquarters for Passport. That project was paused before the subsidized health insurance provider was acquired by Molina. Prior to that, there were unsuccessful plans to build a Walmart there.

Unlike previous projects, the new JCPS plan will be seen to completion, Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said on Friday.

“We know that when you develop property, you're really developing prosperity,” she said, “and not just for this generation, but for generations to come.”

Gov. Andy Beshear praised the growing development in west Louisville, which lacks amenities available in other parts of the city due to the lingering effects of redlining and other discriminatory policies.

Beshear highlighted recent investments in west Louisville, including the Goodwill Opportunity Center, the expansion of Waterfront Park and the future Norton West Louisville Hospital.

“These aren't just projects,” Beshear said. “These are building a better future right here in west Louisville.”

Giselle is LPM's breaking news reporter. Email Giselle at grhoden@lpm.org.

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