LuigART Makers Spaces

North Limestone Community Development Corporation / LexArts

Funding Received: 2013
Lexington, KY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 21, 2014

By Richard Young

This has been a month of great progress for the NoLi CDC. We have made significant strides to building out the programming behind the LuigART Makers Spaces, we won a national-level grant, and launched a grant-making venture of our own.

138 York St, our first complete rehab from the LuigART Makers Spaces is nearing completion! The only thing left to happen is finishes in the interior. We are also almost finished with our application for a Planned Unit Development overlay for the block that the LuigART Makers Spaces will be on. This PUD zoning will allow the live/work component of our project to happen, and will free up residents to run businesses out of their homes, sell their goods, and even have employees for their businesses that exist solely in their homes. We had a neighborhood meeting to discuss this with the residents and property owners in the affected area, and while the amount of people that showed up was smaller than we hoped, it was a productive conversation. The ability to legally have live/work space is a huge component of the LuigART Makers Spaces, and we’re very glad to have it underway.

Kentucky American Water owns a property on York Street which houses a 1 million gallon water holding tank and associated pumping, monitoring, and piping equipment. Currently the property is fully enclosed by 6’ chainlink with strings of barbed wire at the top. There are cameras and motion detection systems visible from the sidewalk. It is ostensibly “safe” to protect against intruders.” However, it is not able to be utilized by the neighborhood, and is simply visible without being accessible. For this reason, the property was targeted by the NoLi CDC and its partners to be developed into a public butterfly garden. A design charette was held, with Kentucky American Water, Lord Aeck Sargent, and EcoGro at the table, to envision how this property could be transformed into a neighborhood asset not only in its current infrastructural function, but also as a park open to all. The resulting design proposes removing the fence, creating meandering lit paths through the garden, as well as a lit podium deck platform over the existing pumpworks. The podium is envisioned to facilitate educational placards and other interaction between visitors and the park, the water tank, and the neighborhood at large. The design also proposes muraling the water tank and lighting the mural, such that it becomes a beacon and an art anchor to the park, the surrounding community, and the North Limestone corridor. The resulting openness, lighting, and increased occupancy & foot traffic will keep the park at least as safe as the existing “keep out” approach, and in addition will create a public outdoor space for myriad functions and purposes. This is a proven planning approach widely applied in the US and Europe, which makes safety a primary design criterion, an approach in which community plays an active role as a stakeholder in establishing safety through its presence, advocacy, maintenance, and cooperation.

We’re really excited to announce two grants that the NoLi CDC has received in the past month. First is a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant to help create a cultural plan for the neighborhood. You can find more about it here at our press release. Also - a grant from the city of Lexington (that still needs to go through council) for a Sustainability Initiative that will allow us to plant 120 street trees, give out 100 rain barrels, pant two rain gardens, plant an edible orchard, and launch an anti-litter PSA campaign. Finally, we partnered with Magic Beans Coffee Roasters to release Northside Pride coffee! 50% of the proceeds from the coffee go back to the CDC, and we will turn around and give the money to the public in the form of micro-grants that anyone that lives or works in the neighborhood can apply for.

Recent Wins
- North Limestone MusicWorks and the Central Music Academy will be moving in together into the basement of the old Johnson Elementary School on 6th street. This will help bring more equitable access to these programs by embedding them deeper in the neighborhood.
- Several galleries in the North Lime corridor have been named as “top 10” galleries in Lexington. Check it out here.

This month’s insight/provocation comes from Kris Nonn, our new project manager for the LuigART Makers Spaces:
Every big project is made up of many many smaller projects. Let not the small projects obscure or stray from the big picture, and let not the big picture make each project seem trivial. The balance between big and small is the trick of it.