The inspiration for the pop-up plaza in Louisville came from our visit to the Tennessee Brewery Untapped project in Memphis back in May. The Memphis initiative was a tactical urbanism, pre-vitalizaiton effort to activate a beautiful historic brewery building downtown that had been vacant for a long time and is slated to be demolished. The Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team partnered with other groups, individuals, and volunteers to transform the first level of the old brewery into an impromptu beer garden and event space. The idea was to bring attention to the building and test the viability of an incremental urbanist approach that, instead of trying to redevelop the entire building all at once, experiment with the possibility to scale back and just activate the ground floor.

The pop-up beer garden featured volunteer built furniture utilizing found materials like tires and palettes. The bar focused on showcasing local breweries. Several food trucks occupied the space each day.

The effort appeared to be extremely successful attracting approximately 25,000 people over the six weeks that it operated. Ultimately, the biggest win will be if the building is saved from the wrecking ball. Only time will tell, but there was definitely a renewed interest in saving the building.

The pop-up plaza in Louisville will also focus on drawing attention to a significant vacant space in our downtown. The hopes are that we can utilize the space not only as a beer garden and event space, but to provide local creativity to experiment with how we use our public space, tying into the continued Park(ing) Day efforts each year.