Making Place: How Louisville is using tactical urbanism to rebuild civic life

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“You can have a space, and even though it’s vacant at the time, it can still have a life. It’s still part of the life–history of this particular parcel.”
—Marianne Zickuhr

kyplace-logoDowntown Louisville has a problem with vacant lots. With an unrelenting focus on automobile accommodation, developers have traditionally favored surface parking as a means of ensuring easy economic growth and prosperity. Instead, what we got were eroded streetscapes, a scorching heat island effect, and conditions that have been dangerous for pedestrians trying to navigate the city.

Good news is that in recent years, there has been a noticeable shift towards rebuilding density and walkability. In 2014, Louisville-based City Collaborative launched ReSurfaced – an initiative to create temporary “pop up plazas” on vacant lots across the city. Since making its debut on Main Street, the project has helped area residents to rethink the possible uses of abandoned spaces.

Resurfaced, Bourbon Edition. (Elizabeth Hayden)
Resurfaced, Bourbon Edition. (Elizabeth Hayden)

For the second installment of KY Place, we spoke with four individuals about land use policies in Louisville and if our current trajectory of urban development will bring the kind of connectivity and inclusion our city desperately needs. With ReSurfaced serving as the backdrop for this episode, we sought to explore the relationship between vacant lots and transportation, and how tactical urbanism can serve as a catalyst to bring about large-scale improvements to the city.

Left to right: Marianne Zickuhr; Jaison Gardner; Jennifer Chappell; Patrick Henry. (Elizabeth Hayden)
Left to right: Marianne Zickuhr; Jaison Gardner; Jennifer Chappell; Patrick Henry. (Elizabeth Hayden)

Featuring: Marianne Zickuhr (Founding executive director, Preservation Louisville), Patrick Henry (Landscape Architect, Patrick Henry Landscape Architects), Jennifer Chappell (Creator, Three Points Beautification Project), and Jaison Gardner (Co-host, WFPL’s “Strange Fruit”)

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Elijah McKenzie

Elijah McKenzie

Elijah has called Louisville his home since moving here in 2006. He earned a BA degree in Communication and Anthropology from the University of Louisville, and has since worked as a filmmaker, teacher, gardener, journalist, and graphic designer. His hobbies include not owning a car and camping. Follow him on the Twitter dot com at @hulloweliyah.
Elijah McKenzie

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