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Ambitious Mixed-Use Development Would Highlight Ludlow's History & Future

Ludlow is embarking on a plan to lure developers to town with the promise of an ambitious mixed-used development that rejoices in the city's railroad history.

Announced at this month's city council meeting, Ludlow Yards is a plan that calls for a vibrant mixed-use development that would serve as a gateway to the city's main business district.

Covington-based Hub + Weber Architects created the rendering of the four-story brick building.

Designed by Hub+Weber Architects, the eye-catching four-story brick building captures the tremendous potential of the city's main business district while connecting to Ludlow's past.  Principal Jim Guthrie led the collaborative design process with Erin Graham developing the project rendering.

"We really wanted to create a design and a building that doesn't look like anything else that would be developed in Ludlow," said Jim Guthrie, a principal at Hub + Weber who led the collaborative design process with Erin Graham. "Our goal was to create a design that was specific to the community of Ludlow. In contrast to much of the current design trends in urban redevelopment. We sought not only to create a design that would only fit in Ludlow, but would only fit in this part of Ludlow – the industrial east end."

Ludlow Mayor Ken Wynn said the city plans to work with the Catalytic Fund of Northern Kentucky on procuring a market analysis to promote the project to potential developers.

"What's so great about Ludlow is that we have a tremendous heritage and history, but our future is so bright," said Wynn, who also owns a coffee shop on Elm Street. "Ludlow Yards will attract new investment, businesses, workers, residents and energy to the city."

Hub + Weber's design calls for "an eclectic yet cohesive vibe that easily fuses public plazas and street-level retail with upper floors of residential, office, and business uses," according to the project's details released to The River City News after a request following the city council meeting.

Guthrie said the Ludlow Yards project would include open and airy spaces with an abundance of glass and natural light suitable for design stuidos, creative firms, and technology companies.

A craft brewery, an events center, and even a Ludlow history museum would work at the site, Guthrie believes.

To come up with the design, Guthrie and his team spent several days pouring over historic photos of Ludlow, including the buildings in the city's former railroad yards, as well as pictures of readapted warehouses, such as Longworth Hall in Cincinnati. 

"This building will really generate and capture the energy and vibrancy you find in larger urban areas but still give you that neighborhood feel," said Guthrie, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's prestigious College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP). "We felt a mixed use development that would be utilized 24/7 was very important. We see people working and shopping there during the day and at night being at home, visiting a restaurant or brewpub or coming to an event at the public plaza."

City leaders are particularly intrigued by a public plaza Guthrie has designed for the project that could feature a train element that was actually used in the old railroad roundhouse that still stands in Ludlow.

"We wanted an open and public space at the corner of the development, something that grabbed you right away," Guthrie said. "By featuring the old railroad turntable, this connects very well to the history of Ludlow in a cool open space."

Parking for Ludlow Yards would be available in an activated community lot the city plans to develop across Elm Street from the development site in what is now a vacant lot. In addition to 45 parking spaces the site - which is adjacent to the Ludlow Municipal Building - will also feature a train viewing platform adjacent to the Norfolk Southern Line that runs through the city as well as a public area surrounding the city's historic fountain; a tree grove with seating; and special pavers in an area that can be utilized for festivals, community events and other gatherings.

"Having an inviting public gathering space with parking will certainly be an asset to the potential tenants and residents of Ludlow Yards," said Ludlow City Administrator Elishia Chamberlain. "The type of businesses and residents that could be attracted to Ludlow Yards, including potentially those from the bio tech and creative industries, want the sort of amenities that we are enhancing in the city such as parks, walkable areas and the feel of an emerging and hip neighborhood."

-Staff report

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