Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer at this morning's press conference. Debbie Fox , director of Louisville EMT behind.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer at this morning’s press conference. Debbie Fox , director of Louisville EMT, behind.

Over the past three years, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says his administration has put a lot of effort behind the very “complicated issues” of vacant and abandoned properties in Louisville. He also says there has been “tremendous focus on innovation” in his term with a great deal of cooperation with the private sector.

The “Lots of Possibility” competition announced at a press conference today marries those two initiatives.

Living next to a vacant or abandoned property can be very frustrating for responsible homeowners or apartment-dwellers, the mayor said during the press conference. There are more than 6400 vacant or abandoned properties in the Louisville Metro and approximately 460 are owned by Metro Government and/or the Landbank Authority Inc.

Lots of Possibility challenges individuals and teams to re-imagine these properties as productive and inspiring assets to their communities. Proposals can be for permanent or interim projects for an eligible Metro-owned property.

For this competition, 250 vacant lots have been made available for consideration. They are of varying sizes, shapes and locations. (A map of the lots is available here. You will have to click through to “Louisville.”)

Map of some of the available properties for Lots of Possibilities.

Map of some of the available properties for Lots of Possibilities.

Two winners will receive $15,000 each for proposals for permanent revitalization of a vacant property and ownership of the lot.

Two more winners will receive $4,000 for proposals for temporary or interim use of a lot plus a one-to-two year land lease.

The contest opens today and runs through Feb. 24. Six finalists will then be asked to present more detailed proposals. Winners will be announced in April.

Mayor Fischer said, “The rules for this competition are simple — be creative and bold!” He said he’s looking for ideas that will “blow the minds of people all over the world.”

According to the entry form, proposals will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Feasibility: Does the individual or team have the resources to carry out the proposal? Is the project achievable from a technical standpoint?
  • Time and Capacity to Implement: Does the individual or team have the time and organizational capacity to implement the proposal? Are we likely to see the project come to fruition in a reasonable timeframe and is there a strong operations and maintenance plan in place?
  • Creativity: Does the project propose innovative uses? Does it inspire, and help people realize the potential of repurposing vacant lots?
  • Community Benefit: Will the project involve and/or benefit the community? Is it likely to be an active place? Is the idea replicable for others?

Mayor Fischer also said that teams must have strong funding plans in place, should the prize money not sufficiently fund the effort.

Julie Chen

Julienne Chen, manager for the Mayor’s Information Delivery Team

Julienne Chen, project manager for Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, said that past ideas for vacant properties have included: goat herding space, outdoor movie theaters, adventure playgrounds and community gardens.

The VAPStat website includes an “inspiration gallery” featuring results from similar initiatives around the country.

The competition is a collaboration between the Department of Community Services and Revitalization, Vision Louisville and the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, funded in part by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The competition itself is funded by a grant from the Gheens Foundation, according to the mayor.

The Lots of Possibility competition is just one more way the Fischer administration has sought to reduce the number of vacant and abandoned properties. The mayor cited Shine on Shawnee, the recent residential renovations in the Portland neighborhood, and the creation of VAPStat, the “one-stop shop” where citizens can access information and data about abandoned properties as other recent successes.