Sat July 5, 2014
Louisville Mayor Says Demolishing Beecher Terrace Would Take Time
The plans to tear down Louisville's largest remaining public housing complex will take at least a decade to be finalized, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.
Talks began last week about razing Beecher Terrace, a 760-unit complex near Ninth Street and Muhammad Ali Blvd in West Louisville.
In an interview with WFPL on Monday, Fischer said several factors have to be finalized before the demolition of Beecher Terrace begins.
“We’re a long way from tearing it down,” he said.
One deciding factor is whether the city gets a $500,000 federal grant to help the process, Fischer said.
“There is intense competition for these grants,” he added.
Another factor, Fischer said, is determining where current residents would move to.
“We don’t just tear it down and kick you out,” he said.
Some residents have said tearing down the complex would mean current residents would be displaced to another housing complex. This would mean a more crowded environment, which, according to 26-year-old Beecher Terrace resident Jesse Hall, could result in volatility and violence.
“More deaths," Hall said.
Beecher Terrace has developed a tough reputation as crime-ridden and dilapidated. It recently gained notoriety when PBS Frontline documented the high incarceration rate among residents.
“Concentrations or clusters of poverty have correlations with crime and we’ve seen as we revitalize these housing projects and we have mixed use housing, they come back in a very vibrant, positive way,” Fischer said.
Hall, a lifelong Beecher Terrace resident, said if city leaders want to improve the area west of Ninth Street, they should not destroy, but invest.
"Why not invest in it and make it bigger and better?" Hall said. "Don't tear it down. If you tear it down all it's going to do is start a riot."
Fischer said removing the largest remaining public housing complex is a key part of a broader plan to transform West Louisville.
He noted that Ninth Street is seen as a “divide." Fischer wants it to become a bridge to the rest of the city.
A community meeting is set for July 8 to discuss the future plans for Beecher Terrace.