Louisville Awarded $4 Million Grant To Boost Beecher Terrace Project Friday, Dec 27 2019 

Louisville’s Choice Neighborhoods program is receiving a $4 million federal grant to boost the redevelopment of Beecher Terrace. 

Vision Russell, the initiative overseeing the project under the Louisville Metro Housing Authority, started construction on Beecher Terrace in 2017 with a $29.5 million U.S. Housing and Urban Development grant. This latest award, announced Friday by Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Representative John Yarmuth, is a supplemental grant and the fourth Choice Neighborhood grant for Russell.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer with Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, 4th District Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith and McCormack Baron Salazar Vice President Laura Kinsell-Baer announcing a $4 million supplmental federal grantKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer with Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, 4th District Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith and McCormack Baron Salazar Vice President Laura Kinsell-Baer announcing a $4 million supplmental federal grant

In November, the Louisville Metro Housing Authority announced it will spend $34 million more than first projected for the Beecher project. And changes in federal law mean there is less revenue for the project. 

LMHA Executive Director Lisa Osanka said they have not yet found other revenue sources to cover the unexpected costs. She said LMHA could cover the rest of the bill by paying out of pocket, cutting costs or asking the developer, McCormack Baron Salazar, to cut some of its costs. 

“There are a number of tools that we have in the toolbox,” Osanka said. “We won’t know exactly today what tools will be necessary but we’ll get it figured out.”

The Choice Supplemental grant can only be used for Beecher Terrace replacement housing units, but the terms of the grant give LMHA an additional two years to complete all 758 housing units. Officials say the last of those units will be complete by 2025.

Other phases of the Beecher Terrace redevelopment are expected to meet their 2023 deadline. The first phase — a building for residents 55 and older — is expected to be finished by fall 2020.

Louisville is one of only five Choice Neighborhood Initiative grantees to be awarded these additional funds. Congressman Yarmuth said it helps pave the way toward redeveloping the Russell neighborhood and erasing the city’s “ninth street divide.”

“This [development] is the kind of thing that will transform not just the Russell neighborhood, but also all of west Louisville and our community,” Yarmuth said. “This $4 million is not only going to help complete some projects that might’ve had some cost escalation, but [also] make this an even better project for the Russell neighborhood.”

Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, 4th District Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith and Louisville Metro Housing Authority Board Chair Manfred Reid Sr.Kyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, 4th District Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith and Louisville Metro Housing Authority Board Chair Manfred Reid Sr.

At Friday’s news conference announcing the grant, outgoing District 4 Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith said she wants to address concerns about the possibility of rising property values in Russell. She said she’d like to see an expansion of the existing tax breaks Louisville offers to homeowners who make improvements to their homes. Sexton Smith said she plans to file legislation in January. 

As Another Russell Project Begins, Gentrification Concerns Prevalent Wednesday, Sep 25 2019 

A group of vacant warehouses near 30th and Muhammad Ali in the Russell neighborhood could soon be given new life.

The city acquired the properties in 2017. Now, officials are looking for ideas on how to redevelop the 220,000 square feet contained therein.

It’s the latest project in a string of massive investments going into Russell, a neighborhood in west Louisville that has long lacked commercial development as a result of racist government policies. That fact, along with the renewed interest, has raised concerns among residents and public officials about gentrification and subsequent displacement.

Mariah Washington lives near the vacant warehouses. The 19-year-old said she would like to see something nice for the kids in her neighborhood, who have to contend with the dangers of gun violence. Washington would like to see something fun for them. A waterpark, perhaps.

“I want it to be this to be a place where kids can actually come and be involved in life and help them grow to something better,” she said.

At the same time, she said she is worried about the possibility of rents going up a concern other Russell residents share as well.

Washington said she hopes the redevelopment won’t raise rents, push people out and let outsiders “take over” more of her neighborhood.

She was one of a few local residents who attended a small press conference Wednesday afternoon, where city officials announced a donation of services by global design consultancy Arcadis, which has an office in Louisville. That agency has completed a 3D scan of the buildings, which the city can use like a blueprint to develop future plans.

Washington believes Russell residents should be a part of those plans. She is planning to gather her neighbors’ ideas and present them to the leaders of Russell: A Place of Promise. That’s an initiative run in partnership with the city, which will gather community feedback for the project through a door-knocking campaign and at a public meeting on Oct. 4 from 2 to 6 p.m. at Roosevelt-Perry Elementary School.

“This is our home,” Washington said. “I feel like we should be able to be comfortable with where we live and not feel like everything is just being changed and one day, they’re going to end up getting rid of us.”

Amina Elahi | wfpl.org

A view of the construction at the site of the planned Louisville Urban League Sports and Learning Complex.

The vacant warehouses are just across the street from another major project, the sports complex planned by the Louisville Urban League. Work on that site is now underway after last month’s groundbreaking, and the project has raised about half its funding.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is promoting investment in west Louisville as part of his economic development platform for the city. On Wednesday, he said the city is working on policies to prevent displacement amid that influx. However, his office has not yet released any concrete plans to achieve that.

Learn more about Fischer’s perspective on preventing displacement in this episode of the WFPL podcast Here Today: