After being on hold for about six months, the NuLu streetscape project is back in gear and ready to proceed.
The economic development organization Louisville Downtown Partnership, along with the NuLu Business Association, hosted a private meeting Monday evening to update business owners and residents on the project and renew conversation about what the new streetscape should entail.
Rebecca Matheny, executive director of LDP, thanked attendees for coming and said she understood that the streetscape project has taken a long time. Matheny charted the project’s long history by noting her daughter’s academic growth.
“We’ve gone from not reading to reading chapter books,” she said.
The streetscape plan, as Insider Louisville previously reported, encompasses 11 blocks of East Market Street from Brook Street to Baxter Avenue. The project will cut eastbound traffic down to two lanes, add many trees along the sidewalk and in medians, create social spaces along the sidewalk where people can gather, add a cycling track for bicyclists, create infiltration gardens, and eliminate angled parking spaces, which state transportation officials have deemed dangerous.
Matheny said they also hope to turn an alley in NuLu into a multi-use space and incorporate art throughout the project.
Although some are upset that the scope of the project does not include side streets, Gordon Garner, a former executive director of the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District, said he sees this as the first phase of a grander project that could then expand outward into other parts of NuLu and beyond.
His wife Joyce Garner, an artist and member of the nine-person streetscape steering committee, agreed, noting that activity surrounding projects such as Hotel NuLu and the apartment complex at Main and Clay streets will prompt future sidewalk and street improvements.
Joyce Garner said Monday’s meeting was a positive step.
“They are back on track, and they’re talking to us again,” she said, “and we have a sense that this is going to happen because this lull has been very dispiriting.”
As previously reported, the city has secured $13.4 million for the project — $10 million from Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, $1.9 million from the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District, and $1.5 million from the federal government.
During the meeting, LDP presented a tentative timeline for the project that includes a public hearing on Feb. 22, a July 18 construction start date, and a completion date of March 13, 2018.
Later this month, project architect John Carman said he and the steering committee will begin “getting down into the weeds” regarding design and changes to the current plan.
The organization also will host a meeting with neighbors and business owners prior to construction to talk about ways to mitigate the negative impacts of construction, which can decrease traffic and deter visitors.
Still, “that 18 months is going to be something that you are going to have to contend with,” said Carl Malysz, LDP’s deputy executive director of strategic planning.
As part of the project, NuLu wants to become the first neighborhood in Louisville to receive a LEED for Neighborhood Development certification, which recognizes areas with green spaces, green buildings and successful multi-modal transportation, among other criteria.
“This will be a green streetscape that we have never seen in Louisville before,” Matheny said.
The NuLu project is seen as a test for possible streetscape improvements elsewhere in the city.
“The concept can be applied in those neighborhoods in their own unique way,” Malysz said.