As part of our “Streets for People” series, we asked readers for suggestions on addressing the preponderance of surface parking lots in western downtown. Here are some of the responses we received, in our readers’ own words, lightly edited and condensed:
I recommend an above-ground bus rapid transit line that goes to and from the airport [that] would significantly improve public transit in Louisville. If it is convenient, frequent, well-publicized, and affordable, people will use it.
Townhouses. Downtown has lots of apartments and condos, but almost no homes that can be owned outright. Freestanding townhouses built to the edge of the sidewalk would be an appealing use that could activate dead spaces and lure suburban homeowners back downtown.
Smaller lots could be converted to pocket parks.
It seems that there will always be a need for car parking, it just needs to be more efficient. Parking garages would obviously be better than surface parking lots, with privately owned parking lots generating income for the owners. [Ed. note: Mixed-use garages (i.e., garages with shops, offices, or residences)] could be an even more efficient use of space, while also making the street more for inviting to pedestrians.
There are a number of surface parking lots that extend west of 9th on Market and Main. These lots are largely owned by Mercer [Transportation], are not public, and are used to simply park semi trucks upon. It’s a pretty damning indictment on our urban core that real estate this close to downtown could be of so little value as to become one big lot for tractor trailers. Assuming more momentum builds in the western half of downtown, the big Mercer operation will serve as a huge impediment to development that might really connect Portland, Russell, and Shawnee to the rest of the urban core.
How did shopping occur in the past? Mostly via short bus/trolley/train trips – which aren’t readily available now. How about push free surface parking behind buildings … and on the edges of the city … with ready transport into the city. My mom talks about taking the bus home after work at a downtown theater – at midnight – which would be impossible now even to where she lived at the time.
As an amateur city planner, I always have suggested that parking lots be converted to parks (pocket parks of various but small sizes). Also, existing pay lots should receive incentives to delineate areas where trees and shrubs would be planted. And yes, replace a lot of surface parking lots with buildings: apartments or commercial.