(Courtesy Botanica)
(Courtesy Botanica)
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The remains of the Point, a riverfront neighborhood that disappeared after the 1937 flood, lies buried beneath some 20 feet of soil at the old Ohio Street dump. Today located on the corner of River Road and Frankfort Avenue, that 23-acre dump is overgrown with brush, grasses, and even trees. Soon, however, this forgotten corner of the city will blossom into the Waterfront Botanical Gardens, thanks to an agreement between Metro Louisville and Botanica, the group behind the gardens project, to eventually sell the land for one dollar.

The Ohio Street dump site. (Courtesy Botanica)
The Ohio Street dump site. (Courtesy Botanica)

“By agreeing to sell us the property for $1.00, Metro Government is making a major leadership gift to the garden project,” Botanica wrote on its website. “This asset is a significant investment by Metro in the economic revitalization of the area. It gives us strong footing to launch our upcoming capital campaign, when we will raise the funds required for construction.”

No land has changed hands, yet, however, as Botanica must raise a few million before the dollar deal can go through. According to the Courier-Journal‘s Sheldon Shafer, the group hopes to close on the property within two years. Brian Voelker, president of Botanica, told Shafer that the nonprofit must raise $10 million to $20 million before construction can begin on the project’s first phase—no small undertaking—but that fundraising has already begun “in earnest.” The entire project is expected to cost around $35 million.

If you would like to contribute to the Waterfront Botanical Garden, click here.

Site plan for the Waterfront Botanical Gardens. (Courtesy Botanica)
Site plan for the Waterfront Botanical Gardens. (Courtesy Botanica)

Broken Sidewalk’s Elijah McKenzie toured the gardens site last December with Matthew Kuhl, the lead architect at Perkins & Will who is heading up a design team that master planned the site. “The first thing people are going to see is this, kind of, woodland trail leading up to a an entrance garden at the top,” Kuhl said at the time, indicating a landscaped entry off Frankfort Avenue. From there, he walked us through the gardens proposed design—from a glassy conservatory, to a playful flower trellis, to an overlook keeping watch above Beargrass Creek.

Entrance to the Waterfront Botanical Gardens along Frankfort Avenue with the Heigold Facade at right. (Courtesy Perkins + Will)
Entrance to the Waterfront Botanical Gardens along Frankfort Avenue with the Heigold Facade at right. (Courtesy Botanica)

The gardens’ first phase includes a dramatic “welcome center, parking, utilities, restrooms, and some initial gardens and landscaped features,” according to the C-J. Initial work is expected to include the entrance from Frankfort, a series of paths and a bikeway, a children’s garden, and an elevated walkway between trees, among other amenities.

If all goes as planned, the Waterfront Botanical Gardens could open as soon as 2019.

 

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Branden Klayko

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

3 COMMENTS

  1. Forward looking computer generated graphics are cool but we are so far away from reality on this it seems like a dream. Even existing junkyards are developed. Anyway optimism and funding are key. I am there with both to the best of my ability.

  2. Thank you for the cool aerial picture of the site! I haven’t seen one mentioned in it and therefore hope the final design is not set in stone, but a Japanese garden section would be wonderful. In the Eighties when Japanese manufacturers were first investing here, I remember reading an article in Bardstown’s Kentucky Standard (I think that’s where I saw it, but it’s been a while….) where visiting Japanese executives said they felt at home in Kentucky because our local seasons closely matched theirs. Toyota has a big presence in Kentucky (huge actually), maybe they would be willing to sponsor a Japanese garden within the Waterfront Botanical Gardens.

  3. It would be awesome if they put in some kind of water garden that helped with filtering Beargrass Creek. This would improve the neighborhood a ton.

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