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.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.17 75 means you need to already have property. "Not only do you need other property, but you need other property that isn't so encumbered that no one would lend," Hinko says. "So we've limited the people who can buy these to a very small number of people who are well-financed." "You have some homes," Bray says. "One home sells for $300,000, say, in the Highlands. If you took one block (in the West End) and each house costs $50,000, you can buy six houses for the price of one. Say if you bought three of those houses and fixed them up, you might have $200,000 tied up, but they'd be nice homes and you'd have three. And if you get a group of people that are really committed to that area and they bought 12, they could wipe out a whole block and make it better. Once they see these homes, it would spread." Developer Bill Weyland proposed similar ideas at a recent Historic Pres- ervation Advisory Task Force meeting. Right now in Russell, where building a new home on a vacant lot costs more than the market value, nonprofit developer Community Ventures, with help from the city and the Urban League's housing entity REBOUND, is building 25 energy-effi- cient, market-value, single-family homes priced between $100,000 and $150,000 on vacant lots. Oracle Design, a developer that cur- rently has close to 150 properties in west Louisville, is tackling this as well. ey do major renovations, such as the one at the Ouerbacker-Clement mansion on Jefferson Street in Russell that was slated for demolition in 2008 and is now apart- ments. "If I'm only about the bottom line, I'm probably not going to the West End," says CEO Ray Havlin. One of the compa- ny's owners grew up in the neighborhood and remembers what it was like not to have decent housing. ey use low-in- come housing tax credits, which vary from year to year. "It's a lot more work, but we figure out a way to get it done," Havlin says. "We think it's important." Ramona Lindsey grew up in the Hallmark neighborhood just south of Algonquin Parkway. If you go by street boundaries, it's not considered west Louisville, but she went to Girl Scouts in Parkland and visited her grandparents in California. Lindsey, who is 46, says she grew up around entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, lawyers and architects. "e neighborhood now has nowhere near the number of families that were there when I was a kid," she says. When she and her husband got married in the mid-'90s, they owned a house on Cecil Avenue in Chickasaw. Her husband would paint over the graffiti that gangs would spray on their garage every day. He would admonish neighborhood kids for throwing trash on the ground and correct their behavior. He worked as an engineer at GE Appliance Park. "He said, 'If young black kids see an engineer working in their community, they know that they can aspire to that,'" Lindsey says. "'But if I'm not there to be an example, then where are they gonna see it?'" Wanting a change, the family moved to a town in Alabama to experience farm life and visit their family's roots. ey came back to Louisville a few years ago, still rebuilding after losing jobs and assets during the economic crash, and were unable to find a place to rent in west Louisville. Everywhere they looked, the landlords only took tenants with Section 8 vouchers. In between being able to afford a home and qualifying for Section 8, they found they couldn't live in west Louis- ville, though they wanted to. ey settled in Shively, but Lindsey noticed how the neighborhood had changed since she had left 15 years prior. "I went down Virginia Avenue and Dumesnil," she says. "All those grand old homes that I admired as a little girl, I noticed they were almost all vacant or abandoned, boarded up." Having worked in the arts for most of her life (she's now the director of educa- tion at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft), she asked herself what she could do as an artist to reclaim the community. She and a group of other women, including Bray, applied for the Lots of Possibilities contest that the city held in 2014 to put vacant lots to creative reuse. ey made a "peace labyrinth," a garden and walking path made with bricks painted by the community at a lot on Hale Avenue in Chickasaw. Remnants from the demoli- tion that had occurred on the lot present- ed challenges that they hadn't foreseen — they thought they could go in with picks and hoes but ended up requiring jackham- mers and Bobcats. Now the lot is being maintained and is something positive for the neighborhood. Soon after the initial project, the women formed a nonprofit called the West Louisville Women's Col- laborative. ey now have a house they call ELA — energy, light, art — on a lot nearby that was purchased and renovated by anonymous donors. ey have done several community projects, including the Faces and Voices of West Louisville, which took pictures of people holding up signs with positive messages about the neighborhoods and put them on posters in yards outside the West End: Louisville is a breeding ground of innovation. #Lounity. My home. In between the two lots is a JCPS-owned property that the group is trying to acquire. "What if more people tried to do their part to reclaim a piece?" Lindsey says. "What would happen?" A neighborhood revitalization study from 2013 estimated it would take the city 20 years to fully fix the vacant-prop- erty problem. "You can't do it overnight," Bray says. "at's what 50 years of not attending to your weeds will do. You have a jungle. "at land is very valuable, but you gotta realize it is." It used to be that anyone who bid on a property in foreclosure had some time to come up with the money. Now, bidders are required to have a bond beforehand, which means you need to already have property. "So we've limited the people who can buy these to a very small number of people who are well- financed," Cathy Hinko says.

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