Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Dress code for downtown rankles

Louisville district draws activist's ire

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A new downtown entertainment district has become cloaked in controversy over a dress code for male patrons.

On some nights, the developer of Fourth Street Live considers sleeveless shirts inappropriate attire for men frequenting the entertainment hub. Jerseys are off-limits those same nights, with some exceptions. Baseball-style caps must be worn with the bill forward.

The dress code doesn't apply to women, except that they, like men, must have footwear.

The restrictions prompted a complaint Friday from a civil-rights activist and could spark protests next week. The Rev. Louis Coleman filed a complaint with the city's Human Relations Commission claiming that the policy "adversely affects" people who commonly wear jerseys.

"We feel their code is very exclusive to young people," Coleman said in a telephone interview. "Young people, this is what they wear."

Coleman, with the Justice Resource Center, said he thought the developer was attempting "to select crowds to come there."

Coleman said protesters planned to begin vigils Monday at Fourth Street Live, a $75 million project featuring a collection of bars, restaurants and stores on the site of a former mall. The project is aimed at revitalizing the downtown night scene in Kentucky's largest city.

Kimber Goodwin, spokeswoman for the Cordish Co., which heads the group that owns Fourth Street Live, said the developers don't consider the dress code stringent. Coleman said, however, that the dress restrictions could drive away some customers.

"So instead of this being a big boost for Louisville, it's going to be a big loss for Louisville," he said.

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