Louisville to transform abandoned 23-acre waterfront dump into botanical garden

The city of Louisville and the garden group that for years has been pursuing development of a 23-acre botanical garden along the Ohio River have signed an “option-to-purchase” agreement for the garden devotees to buy the target property for $1.

But it will probably take at least two years to raise the estimated $10 million to $20 million needed to construct the first phase and two subsequent years to develop the first part of the project, said Brian Voelker, president of Botanica Inc., the local garden and horticulture group sponsoring the Waterfront Botanical Gardens. It is planned along the south side of River Road just upriver from Frankfort Avenue at an abandoned city landfill.

The master plan calls for these elements in phase one:

  • The main entrance to be developed off Frankfort at the west end of the site, just south of the transplanted Heigold House Facade. A series of pathways will meander through the gardens, with a bikeway around the site’s perimeter. A “cascade garden” with a waterfall will accent the entryway.
  • A children’s garden with interactive components, with features including a treehouse, an elevated walkway between trees and massive “seedpod” sculptures — some hanging off trees and some on the ground — in which children can play. The pods will double as lanterns to light the site at night for River Road passers-by.
  • A one-level visitors center, with a “green” roof and about 3,000 square feet of space. Facilities would include both a restaurant and cafe, a gift shop, rental space for functions, a kitchen, offices, restrooms, meeting space, ticketing, mechanical facilities and storage room.
  • An overlook at the east end of the site, offering a view of Beargrass Creek.

In the announcement on Botanic’s website, they say “By agreeing to sell us the property for $1.00, Metro Government is making a major leadership gift to the garden project. This asset is a significant investment by Metro in the economic revitalization of the area.
[Image credit: Botanica]

See Botanica announcement & website.

See Courier-Journal article.

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