Smart growth initiative planned on Bardstown Road (Courtesy Metro Lou)
Smart growth initiative planned on Bardstown Road (Courtesy Metro Lou)
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Smart growth initiative planned on Bardstown Road (Courtesy Metro Lou)
Smart growth initiative planned on Bardstown Road. (Courtesy Metro Lou)

I recently wrote an article on the smart growth initiatives planned for the Fern Creek area for The Architect’s Newspaper as an update to a post on Broken Sidewalk last year. The area around Bardstown Road and I-265 will be the subject of a study to promote smart growth in the area.

As part of the SGIA grant, Louisville will be studying a suburban corridor adjacent to a planned 4,000-acre series of parks along the Floyds Fork stream watershed, expected to spur development. The city wants to “create a more vibrant center where walking, bicycling, and public transportation are real options for residents.”

Smart growth strategies will be developed in accordance with Louisville’s Cornerstone 2020 comprehensive plan by using tools such as form-based codes. Planner Ken Baker said the city is addressing a “need to shift the emphasis of suburban development in this community from an auto-dependent to a multimodal-oriented design.”

Read the full article at The Architect’s Newspaper.

Unfortunately, we’re still a ways away from seeing concrete changes along Bardstown Road. Currently, there’s no way to control what happens until the land use code is rewritten, and the area could see sprawl creep in complicating future smart growth interventions.

One such obstacle is the proposed $45 million South Pointe Commons slated for the southeast corner of Bardstown Road and I-265. Tucked up against the highway and behind an on-ramp, the development is labeled a “lifestyle center” even though it’s little more than a reconfigured strip mall. (Check out a site plan here and a rendering here – Warning PDFs)

The project by Barrister Commercial Group calls for 360,000 square feet of retail space on 45 acres including a movie theater, big-box store, and a mix of restaurants. You can see from the site plan that South Pointe Commons is separated from pedestrian access on Bardstown and is completely dominated by parking lots. The plan also calls for widening Bardstown Road from five to seven lanes at the site of the proposed project.

A public hearing has been schedules for Thursday at 5:30 PM at the Old Jail at 514 West Liberty Street.

It’s going to be interesting to see if this part of Fern Creek can actually achieve positive change through smart growth when auto-centric, single-use, unwalkable developments continue to be built and while the very streets in the area are designed to be more and more like highways themselves.

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Branden Klayko

8 COMMENTS

  1. A drive along either Bardstown Road for it’s length south from roughly Watterson Trail to Mt. Washington or Taylorsville Road will quickly reveal more and more “land for sale…commercial potential” signs. Unless those land use codes and some sensible planning and zoning measures come into play, I dread that both those roads are to become newer versions of South Preston Highway or Dixie Highway. Do we have to wait thirty years until someone within local government realizes that strip malls and outward sprawl is and always has been a bad idea?

  2. Great report, Branden, and a great vision. This must seem like an impossible, quixotic effort. I drive that corridor twice a month and gasp at the abrasive sprawl and texture of the place. But I go there to do to minds and souls what such architectural and design moves will do to eyes and souls: find some kind of meaning and harmony and meaningful excitement.

    We at the Louisville Film Society have been working this school year at Fern Creek High School to foster interest in film making and film appreciation, start a film club, and host Community Cinema, a national program affiliated with PBS’s Independent Lens. We are working at a school like Fern Creek instead of an obvious choice like Manual because we believe that there is untapped talent and interest in what I call ‘thin-soil’ places.

    Education and architecture transform individual lives. They can also transform communities.

  3. Bourbonball: Allow me to tell you one thing about Metro Gov’t: Development, Development, Development. Strip Malls, Fast Food restaurants & big-box stores=property & sales tax revenues+jobs/ payroll taxes. There is no will in this town to do anything that *might* impede Development in any way.

  4. Ken, it would be great to have the kids begin to document the debate over how land gets developed in the Fern Creek and Floyds Fork area. There’s an intriguing dynamic debate between property rights folks, developers’ interests, and environmentalists going on. See the Unforeseen documentary by Laura Dunn as a reference.

  5. I really like that idea. The school year is winding down, but it will definitely be something to work with in the fall. Thanks!

  6. So, No one went to the hearing in opposition. It lasted until at least 11pm and was still passed unanimously by the Planning Commission.

  7. Great report, Branden, and a great vision. This must seem like an impossible, quixotic effort. I drive that corridor twice a month and gasp at the abrasive sprawl and texture of the place. But I go there to do to minds and souls what such architectural and design moves will do to eyes and souls: find some kind of meaning and harmony and meaningful excitement.

    We at the Louisville Film Society have been working this school year at Fern Creek High School to foster interest in film making and film appreciation, start a film club, and host Community Cinema, a national program affiliated with PBS’s Independent Lens. We are working at a school like Fern Creek instead of an obvious choice like Manual because we believe that there is untapped talent and interest in what I call ‘thin-soil’ places.

    Education and architecture transform individual lives. They can also transform communities.

  8. I am having a hard time with this. I am also, confused. But I can’t claim to have participated in the process either. … maybe I should have taken the time to voice my concern in writing or in person to the Planning Commission, the Council person, the Chamber of Commerce,….

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