A Short History of a Louisville Motorist Driving His Car into My Building

Dear Smoketown Collective, 

As many of you know, on Saturday night a two-car collision (yes, again) at the corner of Shelby and Breckinridge ended with one of the cars hitting 900 S. Shelby Street (yes, again). This time, the car’s back end struck the storefront columns and doors. My understanding is that everyone walked away from the collision that evening, though I don't presume that means that no one was hurt.

With notice from the police and some folks from Girls Rock Louisville who were recording a podcast at the time, I was able to secure the building that night and clean up the debris that was everywhere in the conference room. 

Here's what you need to know now: 

The building is structurally sound and the conference room is usable. There is serious buckling of the floor underneath the TV, so I have placed a coffee table over it to avoid people tripping on the buckling. Nevertheless, please be careful and watch your step. 

The security system is still working throughout the building and the 900 conference room is still being monitored. Nevertheless, while the boarding arguably makes 900 more secure, please be circumspect about leaving valuables about. 

I will be taking steps in the next few days to weatherproof the entryway and reduce the sound of road noise in the conference room. I will add some curtains on the inside to make the space look nicer, yes, but more importantly, these should improve climate control and reduce road noise while we make repairs. In the meantime, the conference room in 902 may be a more comfortable space in which to meet.   

Here's what you need to know going forward: 

The repairs to the masonry are expected to take 4-5 weeks. The two concrete columns were both moved a few inches in and must be replaced. After that, we will replace the doors as quickly as possible. I hope to have temporary repairs to the flooring in place this week. 

Four to five weeks is a huge bummer, but on the plus side the conference room now smells deliciously of freshly-sawed lumber. 

A few more things: 

Thing One: There is a plan in place to convert Shelby Street from a one-way to two-way street. As you know, this is the fourth or fifth collision at this exact intersection in the last year (that I know of). It is the second collision to end with a car hitting our building. The intersection is not safe and it is only a matter of time until someone (a pedestrian, likely) is seriously injured or worse in a collision here. 

I will be writing the City to a) inform them of these specific collisions and express my concern regarding the safety of the intersection and b) request more information on the timeline of the conversion of Shelby Street to a two-way street. Many studies and Louisville’s own experience in Old Louisville shows that two-way streets are safer and reduce motorists’ speeds. I will let you know what I learn from the city on what timetable we and the neighborhood can expect regarding the conversion. I consider this an urgent matter. 

I have been thinking of Branden Klayko a lot in the past two days. One of the last things he wrote was “A short history of Louisville motorists driving their cars into buildings.” I encourage you to read it; like almost everything Branden wrote, it is exhaustively researched and helps the reader gain a deeper insight into the issue. Obviously, Louisville has a long way to go to increase safety for pedestrians and motorists. 

Thing Two: We now have an 8’x8’ plywood canvas on our highly visible storefront. If you or anyone you know has art or a message in them that they would like to show Louisville for the next 4-5 weeks, let me know.

Thing Three: This is really the most important thing. THANK YOU! Thank you for investing your time, energy, and money in this space. Not every building owner has the resources/tenants to help them recover quickly from damage like this. And, those who have the money don’t always have the incentive to fix the damage ASAP. But, because of you, Sarah and I have both the money and incentive to fix this pile of bricks quickly. That’s a real blessing. We want the building to work for you in the meantime, so if there is something I can do, please let me know.   

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