At the end of August, we told you about a proposal to revitalize the Shippingport neighborhood directly west of Downtown Louisville along the Ohio River. The next segment of our Shippingport coverage is to take a look at the existing building stock. This sampling will mainly cover commercial and warehouse buildings, but there’s a sizeable and sturdy residential component to the neighborhood as well that could provide easy renovation targets. Many brick and wooden shotgun houses and two-story townhomes line the side streets in the neighborhood and lend a similar quality as many of Louisville’s other historic neighborhoods.
Shippingport is technically part of the Portland neighborhood, but we feel the area is strong enough and far enough removed from the heart of Portland that it can take on its own neighborhood identity. We’re using roughly the same boundaries as the UK student proposal, basically west of Ninth Street, north of Main or Market Streets, south of the Ohio River, with a western boundary somewhere around 22nd Street. (We’re not including the area around Boone Square Park, though.) Those are only approximate borders for the purpose of discussion.
In that boundary, three distinct typological areas are visible: an intact urban neighborhood on the western portion, a Warehouse District in the middle, and barren industrial wasteland on the eastern portion. We already reviewed the barren wasteland area roughly between Ninth Street and the 14th Street elevated rail line in an earlier post. After the click is a gallery of the Warehouse District centered around 15th Street moving west to around 18th Street with some commentary on the building stock. Later, we’ll start to analyze each proposal as it applies to each neighborhood zone.
- Students Propose A Shippingport Renaissance (Broken Sidewalk)
- Enormous Potential In Shippingport’s Barren Fields (Broken Sidewalk)
First of all, if you haven’t spent some time walking along 15th Street north of Main Street, you are missing out on one of the most interesting spots in all of Louisville. Many large warehouses once used for paint and hardware manufacturing line the street and offer a fully intact streetscape complete with flowering pear trees and brick sidewalks in spots (the best time to visit is in the Spring when the trees are in bloom, but any time of year is worth a trip).
While the buildings can appear abandoned and forlorn with boarded up windows, each is actively used for storage by several local companies and one is used by Dismas Charities. Moving west along Bank Street, a commercial building resembling a flatiron shape on the acute intersection with Rowan leads to a former Coca-Cola bottling plant and to several excellent examples of brick shotgun houses. Interspersed in the area are more large warehouses used by various companies in town.
One of the major challenges in Shippingport is the division created by an elevated railroad and the elevated Interstate 64 that slice the neighborhood into pieces and separate it from the Portland Canal and Ohio River. The floodwall also presents a barrier to part of the neighborhood. These obstacles can be overcome with various design and infrastructure improvements. We won’t go into those here.
Another quality of the area, which can be viewed as both a challenge and a great benefit, is the street grid. As you can see from the map, the area includes the confluence of two unique grids shaped by curving riverbanks. This condition creates several acute intersections which can provide interest to the urban environment but present minor challenges in building to the sidewalk. Small triangular plazas can be found on Bank Street and could be enhanced by redevelopment. There are many opportunities to clarify the grid and overcome boundary issues, as well, as missing portions are filled in on now vacant land.
Concerning the existing neighborhood fabric, there are too many boarded up structures and abandoned lots. Many structures, houses, warehouses, and commercial buildings, are in good shape and in use, but others could be fixed up to the benefit of the area. Reuse of many of the warehouses is more challenging as property values in the area would likely need to increase before large scale adaptive reuse developments could become feasible. There’s plenty of infill potential in the neighborhood, too, and Bank Street, Portland Avenue, and Northwestern Parkway offer potential for commercial growth.
These are just some ideas and observation on the Shippingport neighborhood. Have you spent time in the area? What are your observations and ideas? Shippingport’s central location, historic neighborhood fabric, and stock of warehouses provide an excellent starting point for revitalization, but how do we begin to get there? Next, we’ll start to take a look at the proposals for redevelopment of the area put forth by design students at the University of Kentucky.