Grant gets Russell revitalization project off the ground - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Grant gets Russell revitalization project off the ground

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A project that aims to transform a west Louisville corridor has received essential funding from a national architecture group.

Empty buildings and run-down housing isn't what the Russell neighborhood state senator Gerald Neal grew up in.

"There was a time when Russell neighborhood was a very vibrant community," Neal said during a press conference Tuesday. "Urban renewal -- with the best intentions, I'm sure, of the federal government and the city, came in and wiped out that capacity."

Fifty years later, Louisville Central Community Centers (LCCC) is looking to transform a stretch of road that leads from the central business district to west Louisville.

It aims to build parks, athletic fields, offices and residences on Muhammad Ali Boulevard between 9th and 21st Streets. The development will be called the Boulevard West of Ninth.

The community center announced Tuesday that it received a $75,000 planning grant from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). LCCC officials say the grant is providing national design and planning professionals who will help strengthen the design by working alongside strategic partners.

The West of Ninth project adds momentum to a revitalization effort that started with a $450,000 U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) CHOICE Neighborhood grant received by the city a few months ago.

Tim Barry with Louisville Metro Housing Authority says the grant goes toward the planning phase of a massive project, which aims to not only tear down and rebuild the Beecher Terrace housing projects, but transform the entire Russell neighborhood.

"The problems in a neighborhood may go beyond the public housing site, and other things in the neighborhood need to be addressed," he said. "The CHOICE process includes all of Russell, which is a huge area."

Although the HUD and AIA grants are separate, Barry said the LCCC project works hand-in-hand with the city's plans.

"It creates not only momentum and emphasis on the Russell neighborhood, but it's also a form of leverage when we apply for the implementation money in a few years."

Officials say it's been a long road -- as the visionary phase started about two years ago -- but they feel they're finally getting somewhere.

"There are competing needs all over the community, and...unfortunately resources available are finite," said Neal. "So you've got the best intentions to get it done, but if you don't have the capacity to get it done, it's going to be very difficult to move it forward."

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