Community

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. 

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.