Maybe Joe Dunman can move to New Albany and be mayor?
Last week, the Louisville Metro Planning Commission approved a proposed Walmart store to fill a large open lot at Broadway and 18th Street. To do so, the commission had to waive some of Louisville’s urban planning rules because Walmart wants to build its store with a typical suburban-style setback and a gigantic front parking lot in a “Traditional Marketplace Corridor Form District.” The rules require buildings to be constructed close to the street in such an area to promote the “traditional visual character, function, and identity” among other important goals.
Opponents of Walmart’s plan sensibly argued that buildings oriented to the street — not set far behind giant parking lots — are safer and more pedestrian-friendly. They’re also aesthetically pleasing and promote the positive urban experience people get on streets like Bardstown Road in the Highlands, as opposed to desolate hellscapes like Preston Highway, the likes of which writer James Kunstler famously described as “the geography of nowhere.”
But if Walmart simply wasn’t willing to move its store closer to the street and put parking behind, preservationists led by Steve Porter suggested an alternative plan that would allow other buildings to be placed street-side, with a parking lot between them and the big box store. A compromise where both the city and the store could get what they want.
Walmart and the Planning Commission were in no mood to compromise, however. The commission’s 8-1 vote in favor of the giant retailer’s suburban-style plan proved once again that what Walmart wants, Walmart gets.