Recognizing that many of the implementation steps and catalyst projects have been completed from the last planning effort in 2002, the Louisville Downtown Partnership (in cooperation with Louisville Metro) embarked on the 2013 Downtown Louisville Master Plan process to identify catalytic projects, build consensus and generate momentum for the next 10 years.
This collaborative and interactive process involved the general public, dozens of stakeholders, and downtown leaders in defining a vision and strategic direction for Downtown Louisville. Beginning in February 2013, the public was engaged through a series of public meetings that attracted more than 300 participants. Community conversation also took place on engagelouisville.com, an interactive web interface that allowed participants to share their ideas with others. The web site received more than 25,000 individual page views and garnered 240 ideas and 350 comments from the public. Input was also gained through a series of more than 35 meetings with downtown stakeholders to provide a complete picture of the needs and opportunities downtown. This robust input process shaped plan concepts and directly informed the resulting strategies and recommendations.
The Downtown Louisville Master Plan was guided by detailed economic analysis that examined business development, residential and retail trends regionally and nationwide to establish market demand for the next 10 years in downtown. These market forces led to the identification of the incentives, policies and strategies that will be necessary to help Downtown Louisville achieve its potential.
To support and encourage private investment, the Downtown Louisville Master Plan also analyzed Urban Form and Connectivity and developed recommendations for specific public infrastructure investments. A well connected, sustainable, vibrant and active downtown is critical to the growth of jobs, residential and retail. In the Knowledge Economy, which places great emphasis on educated people interacting and innovating, the development and enhancement of dense, walkable, thriving downtowns have perhaps never been more important to a regional economy. The Five Neighborhoods concept plan creates five distinct urban neighborhoods within Downtown Louisville that will help attract private investment in residential and retail, grow jobs and create new public amenities. Building on the standard set by Waterfront Park, the One Riverfront concept plan integrates each of the Five Neighborhoods with the Ohio River and creates a unified and cohesive Riverwalk that connects east and west to the neighborhoods surrounding Downtown Louisville.
The Downtown Louisville Master Plan sets forth a vision that will add housing, improve the public realm, and spur economic growth. The Implementation section provides a road map for the successful execution and implementation of the Master Plan. Thoughtful evaluation of the broader economic impacts of investments in downtown development is needed to understand the roles different actors can play in realizing downtown’s potential as a vibrant, active, mixed-use center—and as an economic catalyst for the region. These actors include the public and non-profit sectors, such as local, state, and federal governments, community development corporations, foundations, and institutions. In addition, the business community also can play a significant role in the enhancement of downtown—a goal that is intertwined with business development.
Louisville has experience in forging private and public partnerships to achieve community goals. Waterfront Park, the emerging district around the KFC Yum! Center, NuLu, and the Bourbon District are but a few recent examples. These successes have neither happened overnight, nor by accident. Rather, they are the products of planning, coalition building, and unified efforts by stakeholders to provide the needed policies and resources to accomplish established goals. The public and private sectors will need to continue to collaborate to advance the needed and numerous policy changes, make strategic investments and enable private sector development.