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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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.19 81 apartments, and 172 units will offer market rate rents. (Beecher Terrace will also have some affordable and market-rate homes.) LCCC and other neighborhood groups pushed for the federal Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant, which is partially funding Beecher's renovation. Fields saw it as the spark that could revive the historic neighborhood he loves. His organization is working toward creating a 1.5-mile arts and cultural district called the BLVD. It would stretch along Muhammad Ali Boulevard and, to complete it, would require $200 million in privately raised funds. Currently, LCCC is in negotiations with McCormack Baron Salazar, the St. Louis- based company that's the master developer of the Beecher Terrace renovation. LCCC wants to focus the first phase of the BVLD's development between Ninth and 14th streets, right where McCormack Baron Salazar has plans to place several new housing units, per requirements from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency overseeing the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative project. ere's been some tension over the matter, as LCCC and other community leaders believed the BLVD was accepted and incorporated into designs. Fields calls the relationship "cordial" and feels confident they'll work it out. LCCC and McCormack Baron Salazar are now considered co-developers, a title that, Fields says, only came after stubborn persistence. "It didn't come because they invited us to take that role," he says. Keeping tabs on all the projects west of Ninth is a challenge. A steel skeleton of the new Passport Health Plan headquarters stands on a 20-acre site at 18th and Broadway. Passport has filed a lawsuit against the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services over cuts affecting Passport's Medicaid business. As of late February, construction had paused. Passport manages care for 300,000 Kentuckians, most in the Louisville region. Park Community Credit Union is offering micro-loans to help west Louisville business owners and has dedicated $7.5 million to homeownership in Russell, offering low-interest loans and closing costs. (In Louisville, 70 percent of white residents own their homes compared with only 41 percent of black residents, according to the OHCD assessment.) ere's a $7.4-million project being developed by the Molo Village Community Development Corp., a nonprofit with ties to the St. Peter's United Church of Christ in Russell. e Villages @ West Jefferson will be a two-story building at 12th and Jefferson streets that will house retail, counseling services, a minority- owned health clinic and a cafeteria run by New Legacy, a nonprofit that assists men transitioning out of prison or jail. e Louisville Urban League's REBOUND program has been working for the last two years to "adopt" two blocks along Dr. W.J. Hodge Boulevard. is year, REBOUND will spend $1.7 million renovating vacant and abandoned properties along this street, then offer them to potential homeowners who go through the Louisville Urban League's homeownership training. e Louisville Urban League is also behind one of the largest west Louisville projects — a $35-million track-and-field facility in the Shawnee neighborhood called the Louisville Urban League Sports and Learning Complex. It still needs about $17 million in funding to begin construction. e site at 30th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard sits vacant, weeds thriving through cracked earth. Christina Shadle, director of investment at the Louisville Urban League, says what makes this project different is that the community chose it. Last year, when applications were submitted to the city to compete for the so-called Heritage West site, the Louisville Urban League had 12 teams, about 10 people per, and they submitted ideas for what they'd like to see. "Every single group picked a sports complex in the top two," she says. "Folks asked for it." Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, is vocal about wanting the track to not only attract top- tier competitions and tourists, but to uplift those who live nearby, perhaps through business ownership surrounding the facility or affordable housing. In February, Reynolds posted on Twitter: "I want people in the West End to have what others have had — the right to acquire and pass down wealth. I want every developer in the West End to be intentional about Black ownership. I am as committed to this cause as a kamikaze soldier . . . We don't want to rent space in buildings you own . . . Lots of good orgs doing good work but their mission hasn't been focused on uplifting black people . . . is doesn't mean others can't own or build but we must have goals set and commitment captured." No crystal ball, so no saying how all the investment will reshape west Louisville. History presents patterns, though. Harlem; East Nashville; Treme in New Orleans — just a few of the historically black neighborhoods reshuffling to serve a wealthier, whiter crowd. Evon Smith of One West says, "ere's a caveat to coming behind the rest. We can pick and choose best practices. We can pick what works well in one city and watch for what didn't work well in another." On this 20-degree Saturday morning, Helm loops around Shawnee as other volunteers target the California neighborhood. Helm sees signs of life in a few homes — smoke from a chimney, the floral scent of laundry — but not a lot of people answer their doors. "It's too cold," she determines. Oftentimes when a resident does answer and is feeling talkative, they don't bring up the nearly billion-dollar investment. Instead, it's more immediate needs. "Multi-complex" issues, Helms calls them — the cost of medication, landlord problems, the threat of eviction, police confrontations. A few neighbors mention a plan to possibly close two west Louisville elementary schools (Wheatley and Roosevelt-Perry) and create a new one at 18th Street and Broadway, possibly attached to the new YMCA, similar to the setup at Norton Commons Elementary. Helm and another volunteer start discussing the potential school closures while taking a break, defrosting fingers and toes in a car. JCPS sees the consolidation as a way to construct a new, innovative school while replacing old, unfit buildings. But, Helm wonders: What about families who feel connected to the people and programs at those two schools? "Are they going to leave Coleridge- Taylor?" a young brunette volunteer asks Helm, referring to an elementary school that neighbors Beecher Terrace. "You know they will," Helm says, a deep sarcasm to her voice. "It will look cute next to the condominiums." No condos yet planned, but the joke lands. Helm and the volunteer share a brief laugh. en Helm lets out a long, heavy sigh.

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