Officials held a groundbreaking over the weekend for a new park and community event space in west Louisville’s Parkland neighborhood.
The project, known as Parkland Plaza, will be built on a site that is currently an asphalt parking lot. Construction is expected to cost nearly $200,000, with Louisville Metro Government chipping in $44,000 and various community groups putting forward the rest. City officials expect construction to start in mid-October. Crews will rip up the asphalt and replace it with grass, trees and native plants.
District 1 Council Member Jessica Green, who represents the Parkland neighborhood, praised the project at the ceremonial groundbreaking, according to a release.
“The idea of taking a vacant and abandoned lot and turning it into a cultural plaza for families is the true definition of Parkland Rising,” Green said. “Every day, we are working hard to restore Parkland to its original glory.”
The Parkland neighborhood was once a thriving business district for the early Louisville suburb. After an 1890 tornado, mansions were built in the parts of the neighborhood where white people lived, many of which still stand today, according to the Courier-Journal. Many white residents and businesses left the neighborhood after a 1968 riot in response to police brutality and the death of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
According to the 2015 American Communities Survey, 87% of current Parkland residents are Black.
District 4 Council Member Jecorey Arthur, who grew up in the neighborhood, said in a statement that he hopes the project can reinvigorate the area.
“As a musician, I’ve experienced world-class outdoor gathering spaces from Louisville to Leicester,” he said. “It’s a dream to have one in my childhood neighborhood. Parkland Plaza will be the cultural center of Black Louisville.”
Once completed, Parkland Plaza is expected to have a community stage with seating and a natural playground for kids in an adjacent lot. A mural showcasing historic Parkland figures and scenery by local artist Victor Sweatt will border the plaza.