Steve and Amy Trager Honored as Hats Off Award Recipients
This year’s Hats Off Award recipients epitomize what it means to be a great neighbor of Main Street. You know Steve Trager and his wife Amy through Steve’s role at Republic Bank. In 2014, many bank associates were moved to the newly remodeled Republic Bank Plaza, which today hosts nearly 500 associates in our downtown. The economic impact of that move is easy to imagine.
Given Republic Bank’s position as a strong community player, you might be thinking this award is to celebrate the professional work of Steve and, by proxy, his wife. And while we do appreciate that, this award goes far beyond. It is truly bestowed to them because of their collective vision for what Main Street could be. Their vision and foresight to Main Street’s full potential is why we give them our organization’s highest honor.
This year’s Hats Off Award honors Steve and Amy Trager for their commitment to community, placemaking and, most of all, to the people of Louisville.
In 2013, Steve and Amy made a conscious choice to move from their cozy suburban lifestyle in Prospect to our transitioning downtown. Their children were grown up and, with an empty nest, they felt it was time to make a change. To take you on this journey, four years ago – while it’s not that long ago in the scheme of things – really is a long time as it relates to downtown living. There weren’t as many condos available as there are now, and the Tragers saw the opportunity perhaps even before the developers did. They chose to connect with downtown before all of the growth and change was even on paper.
Steve and Amy purchased a condominium in the Harbison on Main Street, just walking distance from work, the performing arts, the museums, the dynamic restaurant scene, and the Louisville Cardinals Yum! Center. The move opened them up to less driving, a flexible work-life schedule, and to a culture not found in any other part of our state. The move made them a part of our expanding central business district. There were some adjustments to the move, but soon the couple knew they made the right decision when Ellie Mae, the family pet, also adapted to the Main Street lifestyle.
Near to the Trager home is a small park called Fort Nelson Park, dating back to 1781 when it was constructed as the second on-shore fort on the Ohio River. The fort was named after Thomas Nelson, Jr., then the governor of Virginia (Kentucky was still a part of Virginia at that time). The site at Seventh and Main Streets has gone through many transitions since its creation – first as a fort used in the Revolutionary War; to warehouses that were used to store bourbon in the 1860s; to 1991, when the Louisville Development Authority (what has now evolved into the Louisville Downtown Partnership) decided to design the space into a streetscape, a trend in urban development which aims to provide an increased quality of life. That concept has also taken on many names – greenspace, urban revival, placemaking, and so forth.
Today, the park stands as a well-manicured pocket park in the heart of downtown and Main Street – or, in this case, as the Trager’s very own backyard. They had a vision for their permanent residence, but wanted to share it with their community. In a humble and quiet way, the Tragers have been involved through the years in the revitalization and beautification of the park’s landscape. In October 2014, a Japanese Maple tree was planted to replace the Victorian fountain that was eroding. The tree was named in honor of the founder of Republic Bank, Steve’s father Bernard Trager. Steve and Amy continue to be instrumental in the upkeep of this park. Even today, a plaque was made in honor of Bernard Trager and the Trager legacy continues – tree by tree, plant by plant, generation to generation, neighbor to neighbor. What a gift the Tragers have given to our beloved Main Street.