As with many urban centers across the country, Louisville is a city faced with the growing crisis of abandoned lots and blighted neighborhoods. With the goal of reusing and revitalizing areas in the city’s post-industrial neighborhoods, Louisville Metro’s Vacant & Public Property Administration developed the Rsquared 40212 program.
Gresham Smith’s team of landscape architects and urban designers helped the organization develop a community-input process to remember forgotten spaces in the heart of West End Louisville. In four key planning stages: education, engagement, empowerment and implementation, our team launched what became a yearlong effort to identify vacant lots for reuse, collect creative ideas from the community and work with local nonprofits to implement a plan of action. The final concept, Produce Park, is a beautiful education area filled with fruit trees.
in grand funds
key planning stages
fruit trees for community picking
Education and Engagement
Our landscape architecture team began by learning about the needs of the neighborhoods and communities. They surveyed 614 vacant lots—approximately 136 acres—and analyzed corridors and gateways into the 40212 ZIP code study area. After completing the survey and analysis, our team turned to the people who call West End Louisville home. We asked members of the community what they would like to see accomplished on the vacant lots and it was their input that laid the foundation for the vacant-lot reuse strategies.
Empowerment and Implementation
Our team worked with the City to encourage community members to help implement the ideas that were born out of the planning process. A number of citizen-based groups submitted proposals, which led to a “How To” workshop that outlined what it takes to implement a project.
Following the workshop, we continued to assess which concepts were most feasible given the grant dollars and timelines we were working with. West Louisville-based nonprofit Louisville Grows was ultimately selected to implement a project across three vacant lots. The concept, Produce Park, was a direct result of collaborative sessions between the Gresham Smith team and students from the University of Kentucky.
Planning With Action
Recipient of the 2016 Honor Award in Planning and Analysis from the Kentucky chapter of ASLA, as well as a special merit award for “Outstanding Project/Program/Tool” from the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-KY), Rsquared 40212 represents a major paradigm shift from the silos of planning and design.
Produce Park opened in the summer of 2016. Located at 441 South 30th Street, this park contains a beautiful educational area with peach trees, apple trees, plum trees, and serviceberries and provides the perfect place to sit in the shade and enjoy fresh fruit.