Louisville was named "Best Destination Experience" in the world. | File Photo
Louisville’s population could grow to 1 million people, with the right planning. | File Photo

It’s hard to predict whether scientists will introduce the first flying car by 2040 — they only have until 2062 to perfect them — but Louisville can make some safe bets when it comes to how the city will grow and adapt during the next 25 years.

In 2040, an estimated 131,135 additional people will call Louisville home, and companies will add 120,000 jobs, according to research conducted by UofL’s Urban Studies Institute and Kentucky State Data Center. Most people will still favor living east of downtown and will work downtown, around the University of Louisville or near the Louisville International Airport.

Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government is using well-researched predictions like these to update a comprehensive plan that identifies how leaders, business owners and residents would like to see Louisville develop in the two decades from 2020 to 2040 — and how the city can outstrip those estimates.

“We are really tying it closely to what do the demographics show, where are we going to be experiencing growth,” said Deborah Bilitski, director of Develop Louisville. Comprehensive plans are a very “high-level, very broad brush” blueprints.

While not the sexiest topic, the comprehensive plan is one of the most crucial when it comes to how residents want their neighborhoods to look. The plan is a guiding document that city Planning and Design Services staff uses daily to decide if a development is right for the city or for a particular neighborhood. And if city officials don’t plan for growth well enough, Louisville could miss out on a potential boom.

The two charts below show how the city may change if it stays the course and how it may evolve if the city makes concerted efforts to improve the economic climate, transportation and general quality of life.

These graphics highlight what Louisville could be like in 2040. | Courtesy of Develop Louisville
These charts highlight what Louisville could be like in 2040. | Courtesy of Develop Louisville

The city’s current plan, Cornerstone 2020, examined Louisville growth from 2000 to 2020, and will be retired — at least partly — when 2020 approaches.

Despite being adopted the year Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt got married, Cornerstone 2020 is still relevant to today, according to Bilitski. State law requires cities to create a comprehensive plan and review their plan every five years to make sure the research that guided the creation of the document is still valid. Louisville has made “minor” tweaks to the plan each five years.

“Cornerstone 2020 is an excellent great plan, still tons of great relevancy to it,” she said. “We are building upon that foundation.”

The new unnamed plan must, per state law, address the broad topics of community facilities, land use and transportation, but Louisville planners also are taking the opportunity to focus specifically on equity, on how Louisville will promote sustainability, and on laying out a plan for the development of market-rate and affordable housing.

A 46-member advisory committee will spearhead the creation of the new comprehensive plan. Members include Arnita Gadson of the West Jefferson County Task Force; Cathe Dykstra of Family Scholar House; Bill Bardenwerper of Bardenwerper, Talbott and Roberts PLLC; Sadiqa Reynolds of the Louisville Urban League; and Bill Weyland of Weyland Ventures, to name a few.

The city plans to host meetings throughout the next year to gather community feedback. Bilitski asked residents and organizations to contact Develop Louisville (502-574-6230) to give input and to request a neighborhood visit to talk about what the comprehensive plan is and to gather feedback from attendees.

Residents can submit comments online as well via MySidewalk. The page for Louisville’s comprehensive plan starts the conversation by asking specific feedback about where people live, how they think they can improve the healthy of individuals in their neighborhood and problems they face with transportation.

“We need to make sure the community’s voice is incorporated,” she said. “It is important, even if folks have not have the best experience, that they be heard.”

Residents can also sign up to be on one of six work groups. The groups will look at land use/mobility, community facilities, livability and environment, housing, marketplace and community form. The community form group will focus on Historic Preservation Task Force recommendations and update information about Louisville’s form districts, which are designated zones with specific regulations regarding development.

The comprehensive plan update is slated for completion in August 2017. Residents will then have the chance to comment on the plan again before Louisville Metro Council votes on whether to adopt it.

“It is critically important that we hear from everybody,” Bilitski said. “Otherwise, we won’t be able to continue to improve.”

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]