Sheldon S. Shafer
The massive effort to replace extensive housing in the Smoketown neighborhood after eradication of the barracks-style Sheppard Square public housing development is winding down, and “the citizen response has been fantastic,” Mayor Greg Fischer said Tuesday.
Construction of 287 rental units is nearly finished, with many units already occupied and a waiting list for the rest, said Tim Barry, director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority. The agency is managing the Smoketown housing effort – many of the apartments are in small townhouse-type structures — centered along the Lampton Street corridor between Preston and Clay streets.
In addition 23 single-family, owner-occupied structures are to be under construction soon and another 22 units designed for the elderly, the disabled and military veterans are planned in the old Presbyterian Community Center that is to be renovated, Barry said.
Fischer and the housing officials conducted a media tour of the Smoketown redevelopment Tuesday morning.
“We couldn’t be more excited” with the way the project is proceeding, Fischer said.
The Smoketown revitalization effort involves a public-private partnership investment of around $100 million with much of the funding coming under the federal HOPE VI Housing & Urban Development program and privately purchased tax credits.
The removal of Sheppard Square, which was constructed during World War II, follows the rebuilding of the Cotter and Lang home developments in western Louisville and clearance of the Clarksdale public housing complex east of downtown. Significant new mixed-use housing has been developed at the locations.
A concerted planning effort is underway for major redevelopment of yet another public housing complex – Beecher Terrace – and much of the surrounding Russell neighborhood.
Barry said some of the Sheppard Square residents who were displaced by the clearance have been moved back into the new Smoketown apartments. Most of the rest of the former Sheppard Square residents are now living in Section 8 subsidized housing scattered across the city, Barry said.
The new Smoketown housing is being promoted for its “green” amenities. New buildings have solar roof panels, energy-efficient mechanical systems and other features. Parking lots have pavers and rainwater-collection systems. The development includes a fitness park and a large community garden.
The new housing is a smoke-free community and the new development includes six charging stations for electric vehicles.
Monthly rents range from just over $500 to around $750, depending on income requirements.
The Smoketown project began in early 2012 with demolition of 36 buildings – more than 400 old Sheppard Square apartments. Construction on the new housing then started late that same year.
The project leasing office is located at 528 Lampton Street. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.