LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For the first time in nearly 80 years, Beecher Terrace is empty.

The last families were relocated from the housing complex in the Russell neighborhood a few days ago as crews broke ground on a brand new complex. The process started in 2018, and the last few Beecher Terrace residents relocated this week. 

"The place feels abandoned after a certain period of time," said Manfred Reed, one of the last residents to move out. All of his neighbors have been gone for months, but Reed stayed until the very last minute.

It's now time for a fresh start, according to Housing Authority Commissioner Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Ellis. The relocation process is all part of Vision Russell, which includes a $30 million grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development that will transform the 80-year-old distressed public housing complex in five phases.

"I never thought that we would see something like this," Ellis said. "Something new, and we think we are really going to have a lot of applicants."

Ellis says Phase 1, a four-story, 117-unit building for seniors, is on schedule, and a lot of former Beecher Terrace residents are interested in moving in once it's completed.  

"I think that's a way to start: Give people a first choice if they lived here in the beginning," Ellis said. 

Crews recently broke ground on Phase 2, which will include more than 100 multi-family townhomes. Now that all of the residents have moved, Phase 3 will start. That will involved a new look for the area, but some things will stay the same. Like the name, for example. After debating what to call the new development, Ellis says it was put to a vote.

"We had polling stations in various places," Ellis said. "We sought the input of people that used to live here, plus the people that live here or was living there then, when they decided the name, and everybody unanimously wanted it to be Beecher Terrace."

It's a decision one of the last residents to move out of the old complex can get behind.

"We want to maintain the cultural tradition of the neighborhood," said Reed, who added that tradition includes the neighbors, which is why he plans to return once Phase 1 is done.

"I'll be looking forward to it in the coming months."

The plan is for people to start moving in by the end of 2020.

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