Conversion of old Jacob School hopes to bring peace to troubled Louisville neighborhood
A run down school may appear to be a Louisville neighborhood's dumping ground -- with littered with trash and busted-out windows -- but on Monday, there was a breakthrough aimed at making the streets safer.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- From the front step of her home near the intersection of Wheeler Avenue and Strader Avenue, Jackie Workman hears the heartbeat -- the pulse of what's happening in her community.
"Gunshots, sirens, kids playing," Workman said. "It's kind of heartbreaking."
Trash hangs from the trees at the old school across the street. Workman says at times, she can hear glass shattering in the middle of the night.
"Any riff-raff you can think of, this has been a place to set up at," she said.
It's a known hub for the homeless, violence, rowdy teens and drugs.
But on Monday, Workman heard something else: the sound of applause at a groundbreaking.
In other words, hope.
"I said, 'By gosh, I want to shout from the rooftop because we've been working on this for many, many years," said Marianne Butler, a Louisville Metro Council member, a Democrat, who represents District 15.
The old Jacob School is getting a $12 million renovation, coming back to life as an affordable housing complex for seniors.
Rent will start as low as $350 a month -- and it will be a faithfully restored historical landmark with 58 units
The school was built in the early 1900s, but sat empty for more than a decade. As years passed, the Jacobs neighborhood deteriorated along with it, seeing four murders in the first four months of last year alone.
Joyce Harper is a former student who wanted to hear news of the transformation in person.
"There were so many of us, being war babies," Harper said. "It gave me a happy life, and it should give somebody else a happy life, you know?"
The hope is the revitalization of the school encourages more projects like the home renovation across the street, ultimately lifting up the entire neighborhood.
And for Workman living just across the street, she'll hear the sounds of construction -- the sounds of progress -- instead of the sounds of problems.
"Going to be pretty noises," she said. "That it is -- and I think I'll have a fit about that some mornings, but I think I'll be able to deal with it for the end result."
The Bywater Development Group out of St. Louis is leading the project. The state kicked in with some tax credits to help fund construction.
Copyright 2017 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.