Louisville Magazine

MAR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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80 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.19 e topic of the $870-million overall investment wasn't debated at the forum, though St. Stephen's pastor, the Rev. Kevin Cosby, did question the YMCA's decision to construct a new $28-million building rather than investing in the Chestnut Street location — aka "the black Y" — and expand into neighboring Quinn Chapel, a historic building the YMCA owns. (Quinn Chapel currently sits empty, guarded by fencing and yellow caution tape. Russell: A Place of Promise and the city are working to renovate it and find possible reuse options.) YMCA of Greater Louisville CEO Steve Tarver says a survey of 900 people in west Louisville indicated the majority strongly wanted a new branch. Furthermore, he says, the Chestnut Street layout wouldn't have worked for a large, wellness-focused facility. "We're not an outsider coming in," Tarver says. "We've been here since the late 1800s." Tarver says the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, as it will be called, will help improve the overall health of west Louisville, offer financial classes and give preference to qualified west Louisville residents for jobs. (Most of the 30 to 50 jobs will be part- time.) Still, Cosby hedges his optimism when asked to reflect on investment plans for west Louisville. "As to the merits of particular initiatives in Russell and whether (they) will result in wealth-building capacity among residents — which means actual dollars placed in pockets of black people — I do not know," he says. "I can say that any development in west Louisville that doesn't result in wealth-building, it's displacement and not development." or families longing to live closer to work. Revitalization isn't all scary, she says. "When you don't approach this work from a fear-based mentality and polarize people, you can come up with strategy that serves everyone's needs and goals," she says. "Families cannot continue to live in areas where they are cut off, shut off from resources and everyday necessities. We do not want to be known as that city. It's time for us to tip toward the positive for west Louisville." Kevin Fields takes that sentiment one step further. e president and CEO of Louisville Central Community Centers hopes investment turns the tide to the point that people who left Russell feel drawn to return. "I have a 50-year history in this neighborhood. I grew up in this neighborhood," Fields says. "We are trying to get conditions so that people come back." He envisions the future Russell as it once was — a mix of incomes, families and singles and elderly, nearby stores and businesses that make city living easy, desirable. But Fields has a nonprofit to run that's been rooted in Russell for 70 years. "We're concerned about institutional gentrification," he says. LCCC provides early-childhood education, arts and after-school programming, employment services and much more. It's a lot like the old Presbyterian Community Center in Smoketown, just south of Broadway. In 2013, PCC closed after 100 years in the neighborhood. In the wake of a $22-million federal HOPE VI grant that helped renovate the Sheppard Square housing projects, participation in PCC's programming dwindled. "ere wasn't the intentionality of making sure they could weather the development," Fields says. Last year, excavators started tearing down Beecher Terrace's 758 apartments. As families relocated and walls crumbled, enrollment in LCCC's Mini-Versity Early Childhood Development Center shrank. Fields says his center normally has 90 to 95 children. at number is now down to 41. According to the Louisville Metro Housing Authority, Beecher Terrace residents will be given priority to return to the new housing once it is built. But they will have to qualify. Of the 640 new units built on Beecher's footprint, 316 will be reserved for very low-income households. Rents starting at $680 for a one-bedroom and $820 for a two-bedroom will comprise 132 "As to the merits of partic- ular initiatives in Russell and whether (they) will result in wealth-building capacity among residents — which means actual dollars placed in pockets of black people — I do not know," Cosby says. "I can say that any development in west Louisville that doesn't result in wealth-building, it's displacement and not development." Ask Evon Smith about west Louisville investment and doubts do not surface. She's president and CEO of One West, a nonprofit committed to commercial development in west Louisville. "Folks are really concerned because it's more of a fear-based discussion rather than strategies — intentional, smart development and responsible development that takes the needs of the community and makes them a priority," Smith says. "What I bring is 20 years of having done that without forced displacement." She's referring to her 20-year history as a real estate developer in North Carolina. She says the projects she led improved low-to- moderate-income areas without dispensing of culture and population. Formed in 2014 by a class of Leadership Louisville's Bingham Fellows, One West will first focus on the 18th Street and Broadway corridor. In late February, the organization announced it had purchased nine buildings and adjacent properties at that intersection. "We believe this location will be the epicenter of West End's economic renaissance," Smith said in a press release. Originally a theater in the early 1900s, the 29,000-square- foot Goldsmith Centre is now a cluster of businesses, including a barbershop, pawnshop and dental office. One West plans to honor current leases but will start holding community meetings to figure out what residents envision for this stretch of Broadway. During outreach efforts, Smith has heard neighbors advocating for "more lighting, more restaurants, dry cleaners, optometrists, pharmacies" and other medical services. One West also recently helped fund the Housing Partnership Inc.'s purchase of an abandoned warehouse at 14th Street and Broadway. She says the property will be used for commercial and residential space. Smith often reiterates that, every year, west Louisville residents leave their neighborhoods and spend $217 million in other parts of the city. at has to end, she says. Bring that money back to west Louisville. She says that, under One West's umbrella, small-business owners will be mentored so that they can "own real estate" and avoid displacement. at term again — displacement. Smith wants to expand on that. Yes, forced displacement should be avoided, she says. But in her past work, she has helped relocate households into better situations, like seniors residing in dilapidated homes

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