[Editor’s Note: Urban planner Nick Seivers has re-imagined the Showcase Cinemas site along Bardstown Road in the New Urbanist tradition, celebrating the scale of the neighboring area and its existing streamline moderne architecture. View more of Nick’s proposals on his blog, Urban Composition.]
The former Showcase Cinema site on Bardstown Road south of the Watterson Expressway (I-264) has been rumored to be a potential site of a church, a hardware store, and now a Costco. It is a deep site—some 20 acres surrounded by single-family homes and multifamily communities—with limited frontage on Bardstown Road. It is an awkward site for a big box store to occupy, requiring the store to turn sideways and mitigation measures (impenetrable fences and non-native shrubs) to screen the intensive loading dock, parking lot, and commercial activity from the single-use nature of the site from surrounding neighborhoods on all sides.
The Bon Air and Bashford Manor communities are in transition. Nearly all of the initial iterations of the commercial activities in the area have been torn down and replaced with new buildings, occupied by new uses. The Bashford Manor Mall, Toy Tiger, and some other curious buildings are no more or have been modestly rehabbed. The Showcase Cinemas site remains vacant, its theaters demolished years ago. Before the place of several of my nervous first dates was removed, I started to sketch ideas to bring the surrounding neighborhoods into the site, of transitioning the intense commercial front of the site into a nice quiet place to live, and incorporating the iconic entrance and maybe one of the theaters into the programming of this new neighborhood.
Several national examples of New Urbanist–style edge cities nearly fit within the Showcase Cinema Site: Addison Circle in the Dallas, Texas area and Birkdale Village in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. These vertically mixed-use examples inform the potential scale and arrangement of buildings and streets on the Showcase Cinemas site. The depth of the site and the surrounding residential uses suggest that intense commercial activity should be clustered towards, and take advantage of the visibility of Bardstown Road.
In the concept illustrated here, there are four main entrances to Bardstown (the seven-lane road seen in most of the images), minor streets to either side, a signalized intersection, and a pedestrian plaza that affords additional storefronts. These avenues come together to form a central boulevard. Connections to the surrounding neighborhoods would be respectfully and sensitively worked out on all three other sides.
The color scale of the concept implies building height:
- The darkest brown: mid-sized towers comparable in scale and design to the nearby Brown Condominium building
- The orange: three to five story buildings
- The tan: two story buildings.
The tallest buildings—and the most intense activities—are located along Bardstown Road. Moving into the site, scale and intensity step down around the central oval, and then step down again to three story residential buildings at the back. A retirement community (pitched roof) would be built in the interior of the site.
This concept does not react to the prospect of a Costco store, though surely a few pieces could be moved around to incorporate a multi-story big box store. This is an early stage concept. Parking, loading zones, architecture, open space have not been worked out in this diagram. Underground or first floor parking would likely be necessary for the towers and commercial activities along the Bardstown Road frontage. On-site stormwater management, open space, and buffer requirements are approximated with the green that is shown.
This is a concept that I am really excited about. I think that this is an easy sell, a good neighbor, and a precedent example of redeveloping underused suburban spaces regionally. So, inspired by the former cinema, Old Hollywood, streamline moderne architecture, and new urbanist examples:
A vibrant neighborhood of flats, apartments, and lofts in a range of floor plans geared towards families, young professionals, and recent retirees. Partnered with Sullivan College, shared office managers, and healthcare providers. Convenience retail on Bardstown Road and locally preferred Breakfast, Indian, African, and Southeast Asian restaurants arranged around the interior park.
Construction slated for the day after I come into a large sum of money.