Louisville Magazine

MAR 2017

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

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/791253

Contents of this Issue


Page 55 of 112

LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.17 53 In this issue, we focus our editorial spotlight on west Louisville, as we did in our March 2013 and March 2015 issues. In 2013 (cover line: "Stop Ig- noring the West End"), we statistically compared 22 west Louisville census tracts with 22 tracts east of downtown, showing stark differences in in- come levels, educational attainment, home values and retail amenities between the two areas. In 2015 ("21 Doers West of Ninth"), we focused on people who were trying to change the narrative of poverty and neglect in this part of our city. This issue's main theme is a prosaic-sounding one: housing. But we examine the blight caused by abandoned properties, the difficult search for livable low-income housing and the invidious and lasting effects of redlining on impoverished Afri- can-American neighborhoods. All of these issues affect west Louisville more profoundly than other parts of the city and must be addressed for west Louisville to become more prosperous. Which brings us to another of this issue's edito- rial subjects: the recently awarded Choice Neigh- borhoods grant. The $29.5 million HUD grant for the Russell neighborhood that will raze and redevelop the Beecher Terrace public-housing complex has the potential to be a game-changer. Because of its location adjacent to the downtown business district, the Beecher land is — or will be — the most desirable available property west of Ninth Street. But for that to happen the city and private developers must make bold plans, not rely on incremental improvements. The first announced new development on the Beecher Terrace footprint — a low-rise, low-in- come senior housing complex at the corner of Ninth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard — is, frankly, not exactly inspiring or game-changing. It doesn't sound like a building that will make much of an architectural statement on a key "gateway" corner, nor does it do anything to reverse the historical narrative of Russell as the place to go for low-income housing. (At the time this issue was going to press, there were rumblings that this building might be moved to a slightly less promi- nent location on the Beecher site.) I was a 2014 Bingham Fellow who pushed for the redevelopment of Beecher Terrace; am board member at Louisville Central Community Centers, which was deeply involved in securing the HUD grant for the neighborhood; and am a member of the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative steering committee, which oversaw the grant application. One of my concerns is that the projected mix of market-rate to low-income housing on the Beech- er site contains a worrisome ratio of 50 percent very-low-income, 20 percent restricted-income and only about 30 percent market-rate housing. (For more about this breakdown, see "Choice on the Horizon" on page 62.) The question must be asked: How is this continuation of reliance on low-income housing — albeit, nicer low-income housing — going to bring about the kind of trans- formative change to the Russell neighborhood that Choice Neighborhoods is supposed to drive? What in this plan is going to bring much-needed retail establishments into west Louisville? What is going to make people choose to live and work west of Ninth? Now, while the plans for the Beecher site are still being worked out, is the time to have the community discussion needed to make sure that what is developed on this key property has the maximum impact in bringing economic prosperity to a neighborhood that so badly needs it. — Dan Crutcher, Publisher Photo by Chris Witzke

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