Rakeem Bradshaw tapped into Southland Drive’s rich music history to design a temporary park with seating, plants and pipes and tubes for kids and adults alike to make music.
Bradshaw’s gazebo-like structure called the “Music Lounge” was officially unveiled Friday, a day before the popular Southland Street Fair in the Lexington neighborhood.
“I wanted to have an open concept where people could come and gather,” Bradshaw said of the wood structure at the edge of the parking lot in front of Geno’s Formal Affair on Southland Drive. “The musical piece came about because I wanted to reflect Southland Drive’s history.”
The commercial corridor is home to most of the city’s locally owned music stores and once hosted the Southland Jamboree, a live-music event.
The Music Lounge is the culmination of a nearly year-long project and collaboration among the city, the University of Kentucky and several foundations as part of a multi-pronged effort to redesign the commercial corridor to make it more pedestrian-friendly.
A $10,000 grant from the Blue Grass Community Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund paid for the materials for the lounge, said Brandi Peacher, the city’s design officer who is coordinating the “Retrofitting the Retro” project along Southland Drive.
Students from UK’s interior design program, historic preservation, landscape architecture program, and the Tracy Farmer Institute For Sustainability and the Environment participated in various parts of the Retrofitting the Retro project. Using information they gathered during a semester-long study of Southland Drive, about 30 UK students entered into the design contest for a pop-up space that would encourage pedestrians to spend more time on Southland Drive.
Bradshaw’s Music Lounge was the winning design.
Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe, whose district includes parts of Southland Drive, said during Friday’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony the project was the perfect marriage of business, nonprofits, the city and higher education.
“This is a great example of capitalizing on the talent and the wisdom that the students here at UK have that they can invest in our city in a very practical way,” Bledsoe said.
Peacher will be monitoring how often people use the Music Lounge, spending several days a week on Southland Drive this summer. The first test will come Saturday at the Southland Street Fair. The lounge is also in the same parking lot as the Farmers’ Market on Sundays.
Temporary structures like the Music Lounge will give the city more information on how people use public spaces before putting in permanent structures, Peacher said.
The Retrofitting the Retro project is only one of many improvements along Southland Drive. Construction on a $1.85 million project to add 2.2 miles of sidewalks on both sides of Southland Drive should begin this fall. Sidewalk coverage is spotty in the area, making walking the entire commercial corridor impossible. That project will also include new pedestrian crossings in key areas.
Also on the to-do list: fixing long-standing drainage and flooding issues in the Southland Drive area. That large project — which was once five different projects now combined into one — will address stormwater improvements on 5,700 parcels. The widening of Clays Mill Road from Waco Road to Harrodsburg Road is also slated to begin in 2018.
In December, thanks to a combination of city and Southland Association funds, a new Southland sign was unveiled at the entrance on Nicholasville Road. The Southland Association is a group of both merchants and homeowners in the area.
If you go:
What: Southland Street Fair
When: Saturday 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Southland Drive
To find out more go to http://southlandstreetfair.com/