Ludlow plans to honor its railroad heritage with new mixed-use development

Ludlow plans to honor its railroad heritage with new mixed-use development
Posted at 6:30 AM, Oct 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 06:30:52-04

LUDLOW, Ky. -- To plan for its future, Ludlow is turning to its past.

City leaders have unveiled the concept plan for Ludlow Yards, a vibrant mixed-use development proposed at the gateway to the community's main business district with a design inspired by Ludlow's railroad heritage.

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 Guthrie, a Northern Kentucky resident. "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 and engage the Catalytic Fund staff to utilize their expertise in working with the development community.

"What's so great about Ludlow," said Wynn, a lifelong Ludlow resident and owner of Wynners Cup Cafe in Ludlow, "is that we have a tremendous heritage and history, but our future is so bright. Ludlow Yards will attract new investment, businesses, workers, residents and energy to the city."

Guthrie and his team at Hub+Weber have designed a mixed-use building with an eclectic yet cohesive vibe that easily fuses public plazas and street-level retail with upper floors of residential, office and business uses, including open and airy spaces featuring an abundance of glass and natural light suited for design studios, creative firms and technology companies. A craft beer brewery, an events center and possibly even a Ludlow history museum would also work in the project, Guthrie believes.

To come up with the design, Guthrie and his team spent several days poring 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 University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, also known as 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."

The project could be developed all at once or in phases. Interested parties should contact Chamberlain at the city building at (859) 491-1233 or via email at

To learn more about the project and design process visit the Hub+Weber website here.