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A flood of water, a flood of bourbon.

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Sep. 30th, 2009 | 10:04 pm
mood: sillysilly
music: Joanna Newsom - Swansea | Powered by Last.fm

The urban planners go to Louisville, Part Two.

On the left: Matt and Peter and a bike rack; on the right: Wisteria in Central Park

Beyond the superficial visitor's treatment of Louisville, our visit was meant to ask what currents in planning, architecture, and real estate were driving the scene, who was driving, and whether any of this was the wisest or best way to go, and if not, how to practically steer it around. This included speaking to folks from the planning authority, Metro Council, arena authority, and so on.

(Warning: very photo-heavy post, even for my blog.)

But as awesome as they were (more about them in a moment), I thought the best was speaking to the developer of a big New Urbanist mixed-use development sprouting from a cornfield. If what he was building (or at least where he was building it; this development didn't displace farmers, but sure isn't a sustainable location either) wasn't popular from my perspective, the message was clear: this guy is making money and providing people with houses they like while doing it. The challenge of what to do differently sticks with me; I don't know yet.

Norton Commons. Cleanliness confused for character.

We also got to see successful central city development in the forms of a new basketball arena (see Part 1) and downtown infill, and take a peek at neighborhoods that have been doing well for many years. According to our planner hosts, the city has a handful of strong priorities driving these big projects; are smaller projects getting done, with the economy as it is? Still an unknown question. I'd also note that everyone we talked to was well-connected and very no-bullshit, and I liked them for that. Now, some photos:

As a gesture of gratitude for everyone's time, we spent a morning cleaning up flood damage in Louisville Central Park. The Ohio River is a jerk for flooding a city that has no hills.

Museum Plaza facade. Nothing behind it yet.

Fountain in Old Louisville. Even more notable than the grandeur is that this is on a public street, in the middle of a roundabout. A very rare sight, at least for me.

Court in Old Louisville. I want one of these between my house and my neighbors'.

Infill project on Main St., constructed on former parking lots

And for no reason at all, here's a pretty Cathedral!

On Fifth St. and blessed by a Pope at some point.

We also had free time on the town, a different measure of whether a city is healthy but key for attracting and keeping young folks. Overall, Louisville's nightlife is good, but I didn't have a chance to do any gay bars. I can, however, note that we found fantastic cheap bars all over town, and met a, shall we say, misguided evangelical (don't ask) and had to spent 10 minutes politely trying to edge away from him. *shudder* Anyhow, drinking!

Some of the planners went on a riverboat tour, but sadly I didn't. In the back: Kevin, Breanna, Matt. In the front: Oana, Lisa.**

Julie, Katharine, Kristin, Jessica**

Tara at the Seelbach bar. Ghostly lighting.

Koben, Tracy, Hans, Abby**

Me, Patrick, Andrew on Bardstown Rd. We're starting a boy band called MUP YOU. And we only wear plaid.*

Amanda, Amy, Abby, and Angela on a bike rack*

Carrick and Lisa**

Me, Patrick, and Abby with Hot Browns.* Which are turkey and bacon sandwiches covered in bacon and cheese sauce. A Louisville original! Later we shared a whole bottle of Tums.

That's it! We all had a great time, and to answer the inevitable question: given the small chance that I could get a job in Louisville (or a city like it, perhaps), would I live there? I think so. I'd just live at the highest possible elevation. The Ohio River is a jerk.

* = Photo courtesy of Abby
** = Photo courtesy of Tracy

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Comments {2}


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from: scoopgirl
date: Oct. 2nd, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC)

I've noticed a lot of the new urbanist development is actually isolated from other neighborhoods, too. But, like you said, it's amazing that people want to live there!

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from: silverthief2
date: Oct. 2nd, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)

I think in Louisville it's particularly easy for folks to live out in this field because it's a very short drive to other parts of the city and housing is so cheap, why not live in something brand new?

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