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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A major facelift is on the way for a Louisville homeless shelter, after building plans were approved by the zoning commission Monday.
Due to freeway expansion plans associated with the Ohio River Bridges Project, Wayside was notified in January that part of their building would have to be demolished.
"It is difficult when you have to think about moving the homeless population -- displacing them -- which is something we didn't want to do, but as it developed we decided it was an opportunity," said Wayside's Chief Operating Officer, Nina Moseley.
Moseley said that by using nearly $5 million from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet -- $2.5 million in relocation funds and $2.3 million from the sale of part of the property -- Wayside will be adding on to their existing building.
Plans include a five-story tower that will be mostly residential. Floors two through four will be for emergency and transitional shelter, the fifth floor will be low income housing, while the first floor will be classroom space.
Also on the drawing board, a new kitchen, gymnasium, added bathroom facilities and locker space.
"There will be more space for people to actually get engaged in recovery programs, work therapy programs, ways to really change their lives and rehabilitate themselves," said Moseley.
The demolition will take the north west wing of the building. That includes most of the dining area, all of the kitchen, and some lodging.
But not all neighbors are thrilled about the project. Gary Epley spoke in opposition at recent planning and design commission meetings, and told WDRB that although he appreciates the good work by Wayside, he doesn't think expansion is good for the community. "I don't think it helps the community, I don't think it helps the businesses, and I don't even think it helps the homeless," he said.
First Link Grocery backs into Wayside, and the director of the store says he doesn't want more loitering than he already has. "We are a family store and we offer great prices, so we want customers to come down. We don't want them to feel like they have to come down and fight through a bunch of people asking for money on the way to the door or even on the way out."
But Nina Moseley said although zoning will allow for up to 640 beds at Wayside once expansion is complete, they likely won't house more people than they currently do. She says the highlight of the expansion is the opportunity for more rehabilitation and learning. "To be able to offer more space, to touch more lives, to change more lives, to make a stronger community by putting families back together, putting people to work, giving them their self esteem back, that is just a wonderful high."
Bids for the project open up Wednesday, after that we will get a better idea of what the entire project will cost. Moseley says they'll still have to raise around $1.5 million to cover the costs.
Wayside Christian mission says the project needs to be complete by March 2015.