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Preservation in Louisville After the Yates Amendment

Sunday, August 12, 2012 by Branden Klayko.
Three Individual Landmarks: Metro Hall, City Hall, and Fire Station #2. (BS Postcard Archive)

Three Individual Landmarks: Metro Hall, City Hall, and Fire Station #2. (BS Postcard Archive)

In 1973, Mayor Harvey Sloan oversaw the creation of Louisville’s first Landmarks Commission, modeled after an ordinance in New York City, making preservation public policy for the first time in the city. Now 39 years later, Louisville has created on average two Individual Landmarks a year, seven Landmarks Districts, a new merged government structure with new political dynamics, and the Metro Council has voted to change how preservation happens in the city.

In early February, Metro Councilmember David Yates sponsored an amendment to Louisville’s Landmarks Ordinance, complaining the original system lacked oversight, accountability, and public participation. Quickly joining Yates, eight additional council members, mostly representing suburban districts around the old Urban Service District, signed on as cosponsors. The amendment was introduced in Metro Council on Thursday, February 9, 2012, and over the proceeding six months, politicians and preservationists clashed on how Landmarks designation procedures should work, resulting in a newly politicized process and additional thresholds to be met in the public petition process. But in all the arguing, Louisville missed a real opportunity for preservation reform.

Continue reading after the jump.

Reflecting on the Lost Schnitzelburg Trolley Loop

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 by Branden Klayko.
The old Schnitzelburg trolley loop. (Courtesy G-town/S-burg Blog)

The old Schnitzelburg trolley loop. (Courtesy G-town/S-burg Blog)

Schnitzelburg was once defined by a trolley loop connecting it with Downtown and beyond. The one-way tracks followed the route described in the amazing graphic above from Shelby Street onto Burnett Avenue to Texas Avenue, rounding on to Goss Avenue before heading North again on Shelby. In her 2011-book Louisville’s Germantown & Schnitzelburg, Lisa Pisterman noted that while Germantown’s borders have moved over time, “the boundaries of Schnitzelburg have always been defined by the trolley loop that circled the community,” demonstrating how important the trolley once was for the community.

A couple historic views along the loop after the jump.

Demolition on Third Street Could Make Way For New St. Francis Building

Thursday, August 2, 2012 by Branden Klayko.
Concept rendering of proposed multi-use facility on Third Street. (Courtesy Lake Flato)

Concept rendering of proposed multi-use facility on Third Street. (Courtesy Lake Flato)

St. Francis High School, located in the Beaux-Arts former YMCA building Downtown on the corner of Third Street and Broadway, has been dreaming of an expanded campus for over a decade. Since purchasing their structure in March 1999 (the school was founded in the building in 1977), St. Francis has also acquired adjacent parcels, including a two-story brick parking garage at 659 South Third Street. Following a new master plan created in 2010 by nationally-acclaimed, San Antonio-based Lake/Flato architects, St. Francis has applied to demolish the garage. Current plans call for a parking lot at the site until funds are raised to build a multipurpose arts and athletics complex.

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Friday! Ready, Fire, Aim: Making Pilot Projects a Reality

Thursday, March 22, 2012 by Branden Klayko.
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An Open Streets program in New York draws a crowd. (Branden Klayko)

An Open Streets program in New York draws a crowd. (Branden Klayko)

Fresh on the heels of an inspiring talk last week with Gil Penelosa, director of the non-profit 8-80 Cities advocating for livable cities designed for all citizens, the Urban Design Studio is ready to make concepts reality with a forum tomorrow, Friday, March 23. One of the biggest concepts Penelosa brought to Louisville is the pilot project: the idea that it’s okay to experiment with the urban environment to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Cities we hold up as examples of urban innovation today have been doing just this for years now, from New York City to Portland, Oregon.

How to get involved after the jump.

Towering, Naked, Golden, and Heading to Louisville

Monday, March 5, 2012 by Branden Klayko.
David (Inspired by Michelangelo) by Serkan Ozkaya. (Courtesy 21c)

David (Inspired by Michelangelo) by Serkan Ozkaya. (Courtesy 21c)

It looks like Louisville is set to out-Michelangelo Florence, or at least out-facsimile the Italian burgh. Those creative folks over at the 21c Museum Hotel already have a reputation as connoisseurs of larger-than-life works of art from penguins to snails to shovels, but now the museum has acquired a 30-foot-tall computer-duplicated statue by conceptual artist Serkan Ozkaya called David (inspired by Michelangelo). (You may remember Ozkaya from his hand-drawn front page of the Courier-Journal a few years ago.) To be more specific, it’s twice as tall as the marble original, painted gold, and heading for Downtown Louisville.

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Community Improvement and the Impact of Razing 128 Houses

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 by Branden Klayko.
The 128 houses slated for demolition. (Courtesy MSD)

The 128 houses slated for demolition. (Courtesy MSD)

These days, terms like “shrinking cities” feel a lot like the “slum clearance” and “urban renewal” of the last century that wiped out large swaths of our cities in dramatic fashion. Rarely do we encounter demolition on a large scale any more. But when it arises, no matter the cause, it should give any urbanist pause to hear that 128 houses in the already demolition-ravaged California neighborhood are planned to be removed and the land permanently kept from development in the heart of the city.

That’s the latest plan from the Metropolitan Sewer District, which was awarded $9.75 million in grant funding to acquire and clear 15 acres along Maple Street between 21st and 26th streets known for flooding in heavy rain events. But while the project has been widely reported in local news, some important details have been left out or are still missing.

Continue reading after the jump.

Indiana’s Bridge Boondoggle, Part 4: A Better Plan

Thursday, January 19, 2012 by Aaron Renn.
The planned East End Bridge. (Courtesy Bridges Authority)

The planned East End Bridge. (Courtesy Bridges Authority)

[Editor's Note: Aaron Renn is the Urbanophile, an opinion-leading urban affairs analyst, entrepreneur, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive in the 21st century. Renn is a native of a small town in Southern Indiana near Louisville.This is the fourth in a series of articles planned to address the current situation of the Ohio River Bridges Project. This article was originally published on January 12, 2012 and is reprinted with permission.]

In the first three parts of this series, I discussed how Indiana so badly botched its negotiation with Kentucky on the Louisville bridges project that its share of the project went up by $200 million at the same time the total project declined in cost by $1.5 billion, how this will result in $432 million being drained out of regular highway funds to cover a resulting tolling gap, how tolling likely results in Indiana paying even more, and the significant risks Indiana has taken on by agreeing to build a tunnel in Kentucky. Amazing as it sounds, Indiana’s biggest road project is now a $795 million, 1.4 mile highway in the state of Kentucky.

But just because I believe this deal is bad doesn’t mean I think the project itself is all bad. Indeed, I’m a strong supporter of the East End bridge, which is a generational investment for that part of the state. I also think the $1.5 billion in savings identified so far are great and a good start at getting costs under control on this project. But there’s still more we can do. So with that in mind, I’ll outline the changes I’d make to move the project forward.

Continue reading after the jump.

Demo Watch> Historic Warehouse Threatened on West Broadway

Monday, January 16, 2012 by Branden Klayko.
Former tobacco warehouse to be demolished. (Courtesy Tipster)

Eastern section of former tobacco warehouse to be demolished. (Courtesy Tipster)

This story is starting to get old, but another project under guise of community improving is tearing apart the future potential of West Louisville. The YMCA of Greater Louisville is set to build a new facility on Broadway between 17th and 18th streets in partnership with the University of Louisville, made possible by Philip Morris’ donation of its former 11.5-acre tobacco processing facility. One major detail of the story that was never clearly reported is that the group plans to demolish a large historic brick warehouse dating to the 1890s when half the site—what looks to be about 5 acres—sits as surface-level parking lots.

Continue reading after the jump.

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