LOUISVILLE (NEWS RELEASE) -- Louisville is receiving a $29.5 million implementation grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods Initiative program.

The federal funding is expected to leverage more than $200 million in private, foundation, nonprofit and public dollars to fully implement Vision Russell. Vision Russell is a comprehensive transformation plan for the neighborhood, starting with a phased deconstruction and redevelopment of the Beecher Terrace public housing site. Vision Russell was developed over the past two years by Louisville Metro Government, the Louisville Metro Housing Authority (LMHA) and community residents, agencies and leaders.

“We are ecstatic. This is a huge day not just for Russell, not just for west Louisville, but for our entire city,” Mayor Fischer said. “Being selected by HUD for a Choice implementation grant validates all the hard work and commitment that community leaders, residents, this administration and many other stakeholders have invested over the past two years in efforts to transform and revitalize one of our most historic neighborhoods."

“Our city is experiencing a renaissance, with $9 billion in capital investment, almost 60,000 new jobs and 2,600 new businesses in the past six years,” the Mayor added. “The Choice grant and the rippling investment it brings will further ensure west Louisville’s part in that renaissance.”

Vision Russell efforts will focus on several key components in transforming the neighborhood, including:
• Tearing down and redeveloping Beecher Terrace into a sustainable, multi-generational, mixed-income, mixed-use development;
• Developing one-for-one, off-site replacement housing for Beecher Terrace residents in their neighborhoods of choice;
• Increasing safety and security;
• Re-creating strong retail and service centers within the neighborhood;
• Improving educational and health outcomes for Beecher Terrace and Russell households; and
• Improving community connectivity.

“This is a much larger-scale version of projects that have successfully brought new vitality to other neighborhoods in Louisville, like Liberty Green, Sheppard Square and Park Duvalle,” said LMHA executive director Tim Barry, “and it will directly benefit the people who live in Beecher Terrace and the surrounding community.”

Construction in Russell will start in mid- to late 2017 and continue for seven years. At least 25 percent of the work will be performed by minority-owned businesses, 10 percent by female-owned businesses, and a half percent by businesses owned by disabled people.

The strategies and goals included in Louisville’s Choice implementation grant application, sent to HUD this summer, were identified by a committee comprised of Russell residents, community and business leaders, and city and LMHA officials. This two-year planning process was funded through a $425,000 planning grant that HUD awarded to the Housing Authority in January 2015 and a $600,000 leveraged contribution from Louisville Metro Government.

In June, HUD awarded LMHA an additional $1 million action activities grant to kick-start efforts to enhance and accelerate other redevelopment within the Russell neighborhood. Louisville Metro Government leveraged an additional $375,000 for that effort.

And in August, the agencies were notified that Louisville was one of five cities selected as a finalist for implementation funding. Today, HUD announced that Louisville and all four of the other cities – Camden, N.J., Boston, Denver and St. Louis – will receive implementation grants, for a total of $132 million.

“The Choice program has proven an effective tool in transforming neighborhoods that were once littered with abandoned and crumbling properties into vibrant communities that offer quality housing options and are rich with retail services and other amenities,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “The work and investment that is being made through this program in cities like Louisville will benefit millions of residents for generations to come.”

Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) said he believes Louisville’s track record of redeveloping public housing sites into mixed income multi-family housing provided the community with a competitive advantage against other communities that applied.

“From the Park DuValle redevelopment to Sheppard Square, LMHA and Metro Louisville are considered national leaders in transforming blighted and distressed areas into vibrant neighborhoods that attract additional investment and interest,” said Yarmuth. “The selection process for the Choice implementation grant is extremely competitive. The fact that Louisville was selected speaks well to the work, engagement and support needed to make this award possible.”