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Broken Sidewalk is teaming up with the Urban Design Studio to host the first in a series of charrette-style events we’re calling BUDAS, short for Brief Urban Design Area Studies. The first event, scheduled for THIS SATURDAY, November 6, 2010, and we’d love it if you could help us out imagining a better Louisville.

The idea is to get some creative people together to brainstorm about the potential of the Mid City Mall site between Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue in the Highlands. I don’t need to tell Broken Sidewalk readers how much potential there is for redeveloping this particular site, but it would be great if you could stop by and share your ideas!

The event takes place in two stages. First, from 9:30AM through 11AM, Broken Sidewalk and the Urban Design Studio will lead a guided tour of the Mid City Mall area to scope out the current conditions of one of Louisville’s most high-profile properties. We’ll be taking a look at the history of the site, the growth of Bardstown Road, and how the site interacts with the surrounding neighborhood. Meet at Heine Bros. Coffee across the street from the Mid City Mall at 1295 Bardstown Road.

Next, from Noon until 4:30PM, the really important stuff gets started—imagining the potential of the Mid City Mall area. We’ll be heading Downtown to the Urban Design Studio at 507 South Third Street where we can check out giant maps of the area and start sketching our ideas. We’ll provide the supplies, pens, markers, trace paper, and more. We’ll have some light snacks to keep the creative juices flowing as well.

When we have created the perfect reimagination of the Mid City Mall site, the Urban Design Studio and Broken Sidewalk will compile the results and publish a report on the UDS and Broken Sidewalk web sites.

Please join us for this free and exciting event! Do, however, fill out the simple RSVP Form on the Urban Design Studio web site so we can get a feeling for how many creative people will be showing up. And now, a blurb from our official verbiage:

The Bardstown Road Corridor is an incredible asset to the community. There are very few commercial corridors across the country that could compare in the sheer length and diversity offered along Bardstown Road. Though there are definitely other areas of the city that could use serious attention to the urban form from distressed corridors and sites in the West and South End to suburban sprawl along Hurstbourne and many other similar roadways, we have chosen the Mid City Mall site for this BUDAS in an attempt to generate solutions to help strengthen one of Louisville’s greatest assets. We believe that there is an incredible opportunity to promote economically feasible design solutions to this section of Bardstown Road that could potentially transform the corridor into a must see destination for visitors to our city and those that live, work and enjoy all it has to offer.

See you all on Saturday!

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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

16 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, not a high opinion of the MCM, huh?

    Actually, you DO need to tell Broken Sidewalk readers how much potential there is for redeveloping this particular site, because I don’t get it.

    I live a half block away, hate malls, and am surprised that y’all thought it was worth of singling out. MCM probably has the highest mode-share of walking and bicycling of any mall in the region. The grocery, the cinema and the library are anchors of the whole corridor, and the highlands would be diminished without them. Yeah, there’s a big hairy parking lot, but it has dedicated walkways and one of the two biggest transit trunk lines within 200 paces of the main entrance. People use it. The mall could use better access control, I’ll grant you that, but … surpised. :O

    Have you contacted Tyler Park Neighbourhood Association? I can do that for ya.

  2. While it’s true that there are several important neighborhood anchors as tenants in the MCM, the physical form of the structure isn’t doing the neighborhood any favors and there’s no harm in imagining a more urban vision for the area. That doesn’t mean getting rid of the current tenants. Asking a grocery, theater, library, etc. to leave would be diminishing its usefulness.

    The MCM doesn’t have any urban presence in one of Louisville’s most urban corridors and there’s certainly room for improving that urban pattern to promote walkability and alternative transportation. There may be a high density of modal uses (bus, bike, car) and the MCM may be heavily used, but I would argue that’s a function of the neighborhood density and location, not the physical form of the building. It could be an alternative transportation driver rather than just another mall.

    I wouldn’t call it singling out MCM, either, as this event is the first of a series to imagine various sites across the city. It works as a good starting point because of its location, poor urbanism, and opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the city.

    That said, this is only a design exercise and it would be great for you to come out and share your opinions on what works and what doesn’t – and offer suggestions for future sites.

  3. Ya know, going to college at a school thats over six hours from Louisville really sucks sometimes. Will this series run into December? Id like to try attend at least one of these cool brainstorming sessions.

  4. I hope you’ll talk about accelerating the pace of cultural change. It seems to me that until we can make a significant shift away from our automotive orientation we cannot successfully remove that inland sea of parking and replace it with something brilliant. (I s’pose we could build a parking garage, but sheesh, I hope we don’t go there.)

    So, how do we make the shift? Remember, MCM is in the middle of what was once a streetcar suburb. Key elements include density, an orientation to transit (either in corridors or between nodes), and pedestrian scale design. That “orientation to transit” includes many aspects: exclusive, dedicated or at least prioritized right of way for transit vehicles; very reliable, convenient (frequent) service; parking that is priced at least at market rate (i.e. end the free parking subsidy) and limited to structures or off street locations; a rich mix of housing types; a rich mix of uses (residential, commercial, civic, cultural, employment); and oh, did I mention density?

    Wish I could be there. Have fun.

  5. Is there any realistic financial scenario where the owners of the MCM could actually undertake any kind of restructuring to the facility? Some minor cosmetic changes were made a few years ago, but the facility is still way under capacity as far as tenants.

    I patronize the tenants of this facility more than any others in the neighborhood. Keep in mind, it has a movie theater, restaurants, a library, a bar, a comedy club, a locally owned jewelry store, a dollar store, and a grocery store. While I realize that this session is not being undertaken with the idea of immediate change, I would hope that any changes, remote though they may be, would be undertaken with the objective of keeping the diversity of retail operations that exist there.

  6. I LOVE Mid City Mall and all that it has to offer… but it is in need of a make-over and some new businesses. Just do not take away my Valu-Market, Family Dollar, Comedy Caravan, The Back Door, City Cafe, Subway, #1 Asian Buffet, or Baxter Ave. Theaters.

  7. I frequent the businesses at Mid City Mall as well. This exercise in urban design is not intended to “take anyone away”, but rather to think of solutions that might help the site relate better to Bardstown Road taking into account parking requirements and existing features. The idea of BUDAS (Brief Urban Design Area Studies) are to offer proactive design solutions to sites around the city. At the moment there are no plans to redevelop the site, but if we can get some creative minds together to think about these types of sites around town, perhaps at some point down the line the ideas put forth might spark some interest or more ideas that could help jump-start positive development.

    This site was chosen as the first simply due to a great deal of ideas that have already been expressed for this section of Bardstown Road. In the future we hope that people in our community will offer other sites of interest that could be explored in a group-think manner to better our built environment.

  8. Underground parking garage topped with a plaza, so that the parking lot increases AND disappears at the same time. And you’ll have a new park along with it. The existing building wouldn’t look so bad behind a bunch of trees and park benches.

  9. I’m not so worried about Mid City Mall (short of the un-neighborly towing policy in the parking lot). What I find amusing is the corner of Grinstead and Bardstown, that new fancy little shopping center that used to be a car sales or repair business. How long has it been ‘refurbished and ready for business’ yet vacant?? I even passed a comment on to Tom Owen about it that the corner would be/have been excellent for a bus turn around and parking structure… it wouldn’t be sitting unused like it is now.

  10. Please make the next BUDAS about the terribly designed downtown ORBP. If the current incarnation is built the Louisville area will be economically damaged to such a degree that any of the other projects conceived would be economically unfeasible. Stopping or altering the terribly designed downtown ORBP is the most important issue in Louisville’s 200+ years of existence.

  11. 9:30 was sooo early. For those of us that couldn’t get out of bed at that hour, how was it? Any notable ideas?

    Larry, i think that would be a great spot to look at tho I disagree that a parking structure is best suited for the spot.

  12. Stu, you seem to keep pretty abreast of ORBP developments, could you maybe post like a monthly or bi-weekly update of what’s going on in terms of tolls or any sort of change to the ORBP plan in the forum area? I know I would appreciate it.

  13. Examining Louisville Gardens using this method would be interesting. i would love to hear ideas reagarding how to put that space to good use.

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