City seeks to demolish notorious public housing complex


by Sherrell Hubbard

Posted on June 26, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 26 at 10:50 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)-- The complex has been wracked with violence over the years and how it may be getting renovated. 

Between late  April and early May, there were three murders in the Beecher Terrace area.  Built in 1941, Louisville Metro's Housing Authority has determined that the public housing complex has outlived its usefulness.  Housing Authority officials said the goal is to provide a better environment. 

The Louisville Metro Housing Authority has until August to apply for a very competitive HUD grant called the "Choice Neigborhoods Grant."  If awarded, the money would be used to plan a redevelopment.  Beecher Terrace, as it exists today, would be torn down.  A new complex will replace the aging Beecher area.  

Housing Authority Director Tim Barry said the process is two-fold.  First, apply for a planning grant. If that is awarded, the next step is to apply for an implementation grant.  If the implementation grant is awarded, the Louisville Metro Housing Authority would receive 20-30 million dollars to redevelop the area west of ninth street off of I--64.  

"They need to be torn down, there is too much going on down here and everything,” she says, ”the apartments, it's a whole lot of work that needs to be done with them," resident Brenda Wilson said.

A Beecher Terrace overhaul would be a positive step to meeting the city's goal for an East Russell revitalization. 

"East Russell has a whole lot of potential and also has a huge amount of existing assets," Barry says.  

He said bringing more mixed-income housing to the area would break a concentration of poverty.

Resident Mary Gulley said she is concerned that the city and the housing authority view Beecher Terrace as a problem in need of fixing instead of a community of people. 

"Are you trying to tear down the buildings? Or are you trying to tear down the people?," Gulley asks.  

Barry said the redevelopment is not a plot for gentrification.  Barry added that rehabbing is not a viable option.  

“They are outdated," Barry said. 

Gulley said she would be in favor of a move if the Housing Authority provided a clear-cut plan for the complexes 1400 residents.  

"Where are all these people going, if you don't have nowhere to put them?"  Gulley says "Who wouldn't want new walls and the yard looking good?"  

The Housing Authority plans to address those concerns in the weeks and months to come.  

"It’s our responsibility, the housing authority more than anybody else to make sure we communicate to people these are the plans and this is what is going to happen and here are your options," Barry said. 

Barry said demolition would not likely happen for another couple of years.  He explained that residents would be able to obtain a section 8 voucher or subsidized housing.  He added that in past redevelopments like Liberty Green and Shepherds Square, 80% of former residents decided not to return when given the opportunity; however, residents would be offered re-occupancy.  

 According to The Housing Authority, the Choice Neighborhoods grant has monies earmarked for social programs in addition to the building construction.  

"We have millions of dollars set aside in these grants, for that sole purpose,” Barry says.

Barry said the Housing Authority operates under a rule called “one-for-one replacement,” which means when a unit is destroyed a unit, a new unit will be created to replace it.  

 The Housing Authority will hold a public hearing for residents on Tuesday, July 8th at 6 p.m. in the Baxter Community Center.