Lots of Possibility: City announces 12 finalists for vacant lot contest

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

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

More than 100 groups applied for the city’s Lots of Possibility contest, an initiative aimed at putting some of the city’s vacant property to good use.

Since Mayor Greg Fischer announced the contest in January, the field has been narrowed to 12 groups who have been invited to submit a more comprehensive proposal.

There are more than 6,400 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 us to re-imagine these properties as productive and inspiring assets to their communities.

Once the final proposals are received, two teams will be awarded $15,000 and ownership of their chosen lot so they can realize their plans. Two more $4,000 prizes and one-year land leases will be awarded to teams who have temporary plans for their lots.

“We asked for ideas that are bold and out of the box, and our community more than met this challenge,” Fischer said in a news release. “We are thrilled with both the caliber and number of proposals received and hope the ideas will inspire exciting and energetic redevelopment.”

2014 Lots of Possibility Finalists (from the press release) …

Permanent use project category:

Affordable Homeownership (Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville and the Family Scholar House – Rob Locke, Jackie Isaacs, Harvetta Ray):  Using Habitat for Humanity’s volunteer construction model, a new energy efficient home will be constructed near the Parkland Family Scholar House.  A graduate of the Parkland Family Scholar House program, which seeks to end the generational cycle of poverty through education, will be selected for homeownership. The homeowner contributes sweat equity hours to the home’s construction.

Cargo-container Home (Kentucky Habitat for Humanity – Holly Todd, Ken Williamson, John Cora, Jim Burris, Gregor Dike): A retrofitted, cargo-container home reutilizes existing materials while providing safe, healthy, economically and environmentally sustainable shelter for a very low-income population.

DyeScape (Colleen Clines – Anchal Project, Louis Johnson): The urban textile landscape is a network of small-scale gardens that cultivate plant fibers, animal fibers and dye plants for the purpose of natural textile production. This site will demonstrate the potential of plants to provide natural color to materials, teach residents environmental sustainability and entrepreneurship and support local textile production.

Growing Home Garden (Seven Counties Services – Gwen Cooper, Laurie Qualah, Reza Gharachamani Asl, JoAnn Woods): A community greening project that incorporates therapeutic intervention to help families deal with trauma. At-risk youth will aid in the design, development and implementation of the garden.

Prototype Green Shotgun House (One World Architecture – Curtis Thrush, Ken Parel-Sewell, Kyle Bragg, Dan Madryga): A prototype house designed to rethink Louisville’s famous shotgun houses. This proposal offers a practical and affordable infill housing solution, while incorporating quality design and state-of-the-art sustainable building practices.

Urban Beekeeping (Ryan Hargrove, Travis Klondike, Meg Maloney): A diverse array of plant life not only creates a visually pleasing space, but also provides a food supply for this bee sanctuary. This proposal incorporates local honey production and the potential for job creation, educational opportunities and environmental awareness. 

Temporary/interim use project category:

BBQ Park (Louis Johnson): A BBQ pit, seating and canopy trees will create a place for the community to gather, cook and share food.

Guerilla Putt-Putt (Dana Duncan, Jeff Mayes, Gwendolyn Kelly): A 9-hole, portable putt-putt golf course to be constructed for a series of day-long pop-up events in the community through spring, summer and fall.

Lavender Garden (Christopher Head, Sha Shireman): Redirected rainwater, vegetated bioswales and french drains will be used to support lavender herb beds for decoration, potpourri and oil of lavender production.

Meditation Labyrinth (West Louisville Women’s Coalition – Ramona Lindsey, Elmer Lucille Allen, Chenoweth Allen, Wilma Bethel, Robin Bray, Beth Henson, Ellyn Crutcher, Pam Newman, Harvetta Ray, Gwendolyn Kelly, Tyra Oldham): An intergenerational open space for art and creativity. Community arts outreach will be paired with a walking path made out of personalized clay pavers and chalkboard walls made from recycled wood pallets and natural seating. 

Russell Market on Market (Erika Williams, Josh Minogue, Laura Rountree, John Sizemore): A monthly haymarket where vendor booths will be coupled with an educational, community-focused edible garden. 

Vacant Bugscapes (Emily Schlickman, Sara Jacobs, William Krimmel): An outdoor classroom and public space for assemblages of plants and insects that support ecological regeneration.

Finalists will present their detailed proposal in early April to a panel of judges including community leaders, architects, landscape architects and Metro Government staff. 

“The review committee had a very difficult time narrowing down the list to the 12 finalists because there were many great proposals submitted,” said Bill Schreck, director of Vacant and Abandoned Properties (VAP) Initiatives for the Mayor’s Office. While we can only offer direct support to four winners of Lots of Possibility, we hope that the applicants who weren’t chosen – and anyone else who has an idea about how to turn these lots into neighborhood assets – continue to pursue their ideas. Purchasing Metro properties is a relatively easy process and we are eager to work with citizens and developers who are interested in turning these lots into something positive and productive for our community.”