Planning & Development
Neighborhood Plans
Steve Seizmore of Louisville Metro Planning and Design and Jack Trawick of Center For Neighborhoods engaged in a discussion about the surface parking lots in the SoBro neighborhood.

About Neighborhood Planning

Center For Neighborhoods seeks to enable neighborhoods and resident leaders to articulate and accomplish their vision for community improvement.  Effective planning is integral to this, because through planning neighborhoods are able both to discern a broadly-held vision for their community and to develop feasible strategies to create that vision. 

Center For Neighborhoods has practiced community planning and design since its founding as the Louisville Community Design Center.  Our approach to neighborhood empowerment has been enriched and amplified thru the establishment of the Neighborhood Institute (a neighborhood leadership academy) in 1987 and more recently, by engaging in the Making Connections Network (an intensive community organizing initiative focused in four inner-city neighborhoods). 

We believe this tripartite, interactive approach (planning, organizing, and leadership education) builds powerful synergy that enables neighborhoods to begin moving toward realizing their dreams and visions for the future.

The Plan Approach

To succeed in accomplishing any goal, however ambitious or humble, a neighborhood must be motivated by a clear and compelling vision of success.  Such is the case in Irish Hill and in Old Louisville & Limerick, where community stakeholders – residents and business owners together – have developed powerful visions and implementation strategies that will ultimately transform the identity of these neighborhoods and, consequently, that of the community as a whole. 

While the Center For Neighborhoods has been instrumental in evoking these visions and in crafting implementation strategies unique to each situation, our work has been successful only through the tenacity and commitment of the citizen planners we have served.  Together, plan task force members and other stakeholders have contributed hundreds of hours of thought and aspiration to the making of real and vital neighborhood plans.

To develop a coherent neighborhood vision and strategy, we recommend and practice a traditional planning sequence: 

  • Inventory
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis


During the inventory phase, the plan task force “builds the picture,” assembling all data, information, and opinion relevant and available to describe the neighborhood in its current state.  Through a series of facilitated discussions, the task force then seeks to “understand the picture” – to discern patterns and trends, neighborhood assets and liabilities.  This analytical phase is most important – when task force members and the neighborhood they represent must come to terms with the critical problems that threaten neighborhood vitality, while discovering and then embracing the possibilities that could lead to substantial neighborhood improvement.


From this analysis springs a rationally synthesized vision and strategy for the neighborhood.  Instead of what we are, what do we aspire to become?  What inherent strengths shall we build upon, and what shortcomings need we resolve?  What cumulative result should the neighborhood aspire to, and work toward, over the coming months and years?  How may government help to accomplish these goals?  What can we do ourselves, or with the assistance of partners and resources other than government?  By what means can the neighborhood institutionalize their responsibility to lead the implementation of the plan, once completed?


The process for developing the core plan – the inventory, the analysis, the vision and strategy – is a series of facilitated discussions and dialogues.  From the outset, the role of the planner is to structure and to conduct the process in an orderly and effective manner, and to provide the task force with sufficient information and analysis upon which to base their own thinking, choices and decisions.  If neighborhood planning is a process of discernment, then the role of the neighborhood planner is both to provide the information through which the task force may reach common understandings, and to lead the process in such a way that effective discovery and consensus can be reached.

Our approach, then, to a “typical” neighborhood – recognizing that none such exists – is a series of up to six, 2½-hour task force meetings, during which time the task force progresses through a sequence of inventory, analysis, and synthesis of a vision and accompanying strategy.  During the inventory, the task force depicts the neighborhood’s present identity; while the vision, later, describes the identity that the task force would have the neighborhood become.  Implementation strategies are based both in constructive changes necessary to accomplish the vision, as well as in remedies to problems or shortcomings that presently detract from the kind of neighborhood to which the task force aspires.

A Two-Phase Approach

The following is a delineation of our plan approach, written in conformance with the Plan Model articulated by the Department of Planning and Development Services in their Request for Qualifications. 

We envision a two phase approach:

Phase I

During Phase I, the neighborhood plan task force will be appointed and organized as the representative stakeholder group empowered with the responsibility of developing the neighborhood plan.  Phase I represents the core of the planning process, during which time the task force will develop the Vision Statement, Neighborhood Identity, and a strategic Implementation Plan intended to accomplish the Vision – and to create the desired Neighborhood Identity – over the coming months and years.  During Phase I, two public hearings are proposed:  a first to solicit broad public participation in a so-called “SWOT analysis” (the identification of neighborhood Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats); the second to present to the community the Task Force’s work, thinking, visions, and strategies at the conclusion of Phase I.

Phase II

Phase II will include the development of the Land Use/Community Form section, and of “optional” sections described in the RFP.  The nature and scope of the latter will be entirely warranted by the findings and thinking of the Task Force during Phase I.  Meanwhile, the Land Use/Community Form section will include a more detailed examination of land use, community design, and zoning issues surfaced during Phase I, attempting to develop cost-effective measures and plans that are consistent with the spirit and letter of the plan’s Vision and Identity sections.

Phase I:  Center For Neighborhoods - Neighborhood Plan Process







Synthesis:  Vision


Synthesis:  Strategy


Synthesis:  Strategy

Identify recent previous planning efforts/products.

Description of neighborhood characteristics and trends, e.g., history current land use, zoning, demographic profile, recent developments.

Task Force describes their neighborhood’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT), in order of importance.

Beginning discussion of relevant measures or indicators of success (e.g. homeownership vs. rental properties, amount of open space convenient to residents, total floor area of neighborhood-serving businesses)

Develop a statement of values. 

What values and characteristics should the neighborhood embody?

Trend analysis and the “story” behind the indicators.  What is happening here (both positive and negative), and why? 

How can the neighborhood influence any of these circumstances or trends?

Crafting a vision statement.  Knowing what we know – about strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats; about existing character and trends; and maintaining a stated set of values:  what is our vision for the neighborhood in the future?

To what identity does the task force aspire?

Accomplishing the vision:  what are our specific goals, priorities and strategies?

What strategies are realistic, given existing community capacity?

Accomplishing the vision:  what resources, agencies, and mechanisms (e.g. zoning and other regulatory) are available to assist us to enact the strategic plan? 


Phase II:   Center For Neighborhoods - Neighborhood Plan Process 



Plan Development:

Land Use and

Community Form


Plan Development:

Other Built Environment

(i.e. “Other optional sections”)


Public Processes and Summary of Recommendations/Plan Reports

From Phase I analysis, further develop the analysis of built form, land use patterns, accessibility, streets, sidewalks and parking, open space, context and urban design.  Based in Vision/Identity/Values, develop specific land use and community form recommendations (e.g., zoning or form district changes; local preservation or design overlay districts; enforcement or amendment of existing codes).

From Phase I analysis and Vision, develop other plan recommendations related to the built environment (e.g. schematic master plans, streetscape plans, park and open space design, design review standards, housing revitalization or economic development strategies, local preservation district nomination, brownfield remediation plan)

Conduct public neighborhood meetings at three (3) appropriate junctures within the plan process.  Administer the plan process, including timely notification and regular communication with task force members and DPDS.

Prepare plan reports, including background/briefing reports, meeting minutes, plan graphics, and intermittent progress reports.

Prepare final plan report, including final plan graphics.  Present report to Metro Council and to Planning Commission for adoption.


610 S. Fourth Street, Suite 609, Louisville, KY 40202   |   Phone: 502-589-0343   |   Fax: 502-589-0616   |