Opportunities for Improved Public Spaces

While there are significant improvements that can be made to the Public Spaces that already exist in the North End, there is also potential to create brand new Public Spaces that can be designed from the ground-up by and for neighborhood residents. Later in this section is a list of spaces that could serve a higher and better use than they currently do, as determined by surveys done by the North Limestone CDC. Many of these are inefficient spaces that are currently underutilized and can be repurposed using a trial-and-error process called tactical urbanism.

Better Block Framework; courtesy: Better Block Foundation

Tactical Urbanism is a term for the deployment of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment to improve spaces for community use. While the concept of Tactical Urbanism is very old - people have been setting up “pop-up” shops on streets for centuries, it has become increasingly popular since Janette Sadik-Khan, the former transportation commissioner of New York City, used lawn chairs and umbrellas to transform Times Square. It has also been broadly popularized through initiatives like the Better Block Project, which also uses temporary street-paint, planters, and trees to make better public spaces temporarily.

An executed Better Block Project; courtesy: Better Block Foundation

Tactical urbanism and similar temporary projects allow communities to try out multiple changes at a relatively low cost before making any permanent alterations to the public infrastructure of their neighborhood.

The following are five locations where this approach could be deployed to make improvements to the neighborhood’s public space.

Location 1: Bryan Avenue

The 700 Block of Bryan Ave., which connects North Limestone St. and Loudon Ave. in a triangle, serves no real purpose aside from access to the old parachute factory (see page 33) and rear access to the few houses that are on Loudon Ave. Moving further up Bryan Ave., the Loudon/Bryan multi-way intersection is incredibly dangerous - it has no crosswalks on any side, and the eastbound Loudon Ave does not stop, while all other sides do. Another problem lies at the Bryan/Castlewood/Maple multi-way intersection, where the road connects to the park and redirects, eventually turning into Bryan Station Road.

This area could be substantially reworked for the benefit of North End residents. Community members’ opinions could be solicited to determine a better use of the 700 block of Bryan Ave. Each of the intersections between Loudon and Castlewood should be better oriented for pedestrians, complete with crosswalks and pedestrian signals, due to the high traffic volume on all three streets.

Location 2: Castlewood Park Tennis Courts

The tennis courts are one of the few underutilized parts of Castlewood Park. While there are occasional players on the tennis courts, the five courts are never full. More frequently, residents can be seen practicing bicycle riding or playing pickup street soccer on them, inventing new uses for this underutilized space. Additionally, Castlewood Park’s sole basketball court is almost always full, suggesting that additional basketball courts are needed.

In summer of 2016, Common Good CDC, North Limestone CDC, 1st District CM James Brown, and Lexington’s Division of Parks and Recreation began a collaboration on a pilot project to transform two of the tennis courts in Castlewood Park into street soccer courts. The project was funded through the North Limestone CDC as a test project for the implementation of the goals of the North Limestone Cultural Plan. The project will inform both the need for a permanent soccer facility in the North End, as well as the degree to which the tennis courts can be downsized. 

This pilot project is a perfect demonstration of the trial-and-error approach that is recommended for all of the Public Space improvement projects in the North End.

Location 3: North Broadway at the Whitaker Bank Ballpark

The large parking lot on North Broadway between Fairlawn and Withers appears to not be used on any regular basis, aside from potential overflow parking from the Whitaker Bank Ballpark lot across the street. Occasionally the lot will also be used for food trucks in the area to set up and vend, or for pop-up markets. This lot sits along the most trafficked road in the North End, and is in between two residential streets - Fairlawn and Withers. 

This lot could be repurposed for a multitude of uses - including building out more infrastructure around the food trucks that already set up in the lot occasionally. It is recommended that significant engagement be done with the neighbors on Fairlawn Avenue and Withers Avenue before starting any sort of Pilot Projects.

Location 4: North Limestone Street - 700 block

The 700 block of North Limestone has a number of empty spaces that could be filled through temporary installations and projects on three sites. The grassy lot on the corner of York Street and North Limestone was occupied formerly by a duplex-home that was demolished. Now vacant, the lot occasionally is home to the Art on the Move mobile art education trailer, though it is never open there. The second site is the Kentucky Utilities fenceline along North Limestone. Directly behind the fence a collection of transformers and other electrical equipment is stored. The third site in this area is a vacant green space situated between a residential structure and the railroad tracks at the intersection of North Limestone and Bryan Ave. 

Any or all of these sites would be perfect locations for Pilot Projects to improve the North Limestone corridor, but all would require partnering with the private property owners to make them possible.

Location 5: North Limestone Street - 600 block

The fifth location for potential Public Space improvement projects is a set of two spaces in the area of Sixth and North Limestone. Sixth and Limestone is one of the busiest areas of the North End - with people going in and out of North Lime Coffee and Donuts, Arcadium, Al’s Bar, Cutting Edge, Metro PCS, and Progress Market as well as students attending the STEAM Academy. All of these places serve different clientele, making these public space interventions ideal candidates to promote common space for the entire community.

The grass lot location on North Limestone sits in between Progress Market and a residential house. This location would be a perfect option to create an intervention that is designed in cooperation with the area business community and residential neighbors. An even more interesting opportunity lies in the second space, located in the field immediately next to the STEAM Academy. The location and ownership of the property (it is owned by Fayette County Public Schools) immediately makes this space a great partnership opportunity with the STEAM Academy.