City lands huge grant for Russell redevelopment

Marty Finley

Louisville Business First

Louisville is getting nearly $30 million in federal grant funding to help revitalize the Russell neighborhood, just west of downtown.

Mayor Greg Fischer on Monday announced that Louisville is receiving a $29.5 million implementation grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative program.

The federal funding is expected to leverage more than $200 million in private, foundation, nonprofit and public dollars to fully implement Vision Russell, a comprehensive transformation plan for the neighborhood, starting with a phased deconstruction and redevelopment of the Beecher Terrace public housing site.

Vision Russell was developed over the past two years by Louisville Metro Government, the Louisville Metro Housing Authority and community residents, agencies and leaders, according to a news release.

Construction in Russell will start in mid-to-late 2017 and continue for seven years. At least 25 percent of the work will be performed by minority-owned businesses, 10 percent by female-owned businesses, and a half percent by businesses owned by disabled people.

“We are ecstatic. This is a huge day not just for Russell, not just for West Louisville, but for our entire city,” Fischer said in the release. “Being selected by HUD for a Choice implementation grant validates all the hard work and commitment that community leaders, residents, this administration and many other stakeholders have invested over the past two years in efforts to transform and revitalize one of our most historic neighborhoods.

Today’s news comes after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded Louisville $1 million this summer through its Choice Neighborhoods Initiative to assist in the redevelopment of the 760-unit Beecher Terrace housing development in the Russell neighborhood.

The award was part of a larger $8 million grant award directed to 10 U.S. cities; it’s designed to stimulate affordable housing and economic development in distressed neighborhoods.

The money was designed to help each city develop comprehensive and “homegrown” plans to revitalize their troubled neighborhoods, in this case assisting with the revitalization of the Russell neighborhood and the transformation of Beecher Terrace.

The city previously received a $425,000 HUD planning grant that allowed the Louisville Metro Housing Authority, Louisville Metro Government, local residents and other stakeholders to start a discussion about potential redevelopment opportunities for Beecher Terrace.

The city and the Louisville Metro Housing Authority partnered to rezone the 32-acre property for commercial use, clearing the way for a mixed-use development that would have mixed-income housing — public housing and market-rate apartments — and commercial components.

The property is bounded by Ninth Street, Muhammad Ali Boulevard, 12th Street and Jefferson Street.

Metro Housing Authority Director Tim Barry has previously said Beecher Terrace could be replaced with a development that also could have single-family homes and retail components, such as restaurants or even a grocery store.

The Beecher Terrace project fits into a larger, transformative plan called Vision Russell that will be submitted to HUD at a later date, showing how the community plans to redevelop the entire neighborhood.

The plan recognizes there is a need in Russell for more retail services and amenities, such as parks and restaurants, alongside more market-rate and affordable housing and programs to assist Russell homeowners with home repairs and energy-efficiency initiatives.

It has been estimated by city and housing authority officials that the redevelopment of Russell will take years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

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