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Fischer: Sheppard Square to be Demolished

In a surprise announcement Friday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the city has received a $22 million federal grant to raze the historic Sheppard Square housing complex in the Smoketown neighborhood.

The plan is to build a mixed-income neighborhood to replace the 67-year-old complex, which could take years but would invest $167 million in the area.

City officials say the bulk of money will come from low-income housing tax credits, which affordable housing advocates have criticized as being out of reach for poorer families.

Metro Government attempted to raze the 327-unit complex two years ago, but failed to secure the funding. At the time residents had mixed feelings about the city’s plan, with many saying the deteriorating facades needed to be torn down and various social ills plaguing the area had not improved.

Others, however, objected to the demolition and questioned whether tearing down the oldest African-American housing complex and scattering poorer residents across the city was the best solution.

This will be the city’s third public housing project razed with funds from the Hope VI program, which is set up to break up pockets of poverty by demolishing old barracks-style public housing facilities.

Local News

Ground Broken On St. Vincent de Paul Expansion

Ground was broken Thursday on a 10.6 million dollar expansion to the St. Vincent de Paul housing campus in Louisville.

The $10.6 million project will bring 54 new low-income housing units to the Smoketown neighborhood over the next two years. St. Vincent De Paul director Ed Wnorowski says the housing will be open as it’s built.

“First coming online will be the one-bedroom apartment units on the south side of the campus. Second will be the two-bedroom units. The SRO, the dorm-type facility for disabled women will probably be the last but frankly will be the most interesting,” he says.

The residents of the new unites will be families coming out of homelessness.

“These are folks that are in transitional housing right now or in shelters,” says Wnorowski. “Supporting housing, there’ll be case management available as well. We’re intending to, in very short order, to establish Boys and Girls Club.”

There is no time limit for how long families may stay in the new housing. The expansion was delayed for more than a year because of the financial collapse in 2008. Wnorowski says there’s no firm timeline for completing the project, but the first building could be open in about one year.

Local News

Jackson Woods Renovations Underway

An affordable-housing development in Louisville’s Shelby Park and Smoketown neighborhoods is being renovated with help from private donors and the federal stimulus package.

The Jackson Woods apartments were built in 1972, but have needed repairs for several years. Officials Monday announced that a $7.7 million renovation project is in progress.

The New Directions Housing Corporation owns Jackson Woods. Director Joe Gliessner says the renovations will also be beneficial to the surrounding neighborhood.

“If they look good, people around them are going to make their houses look good,” he says. “Many times, people look at renters as being the least involved and the least caring, and we think as good stewards on behalf of the renters, we have a role to make these places the best they can be.”

Much of the money for the project comes from the federal government and the stimulus package. The rest comes from private sources. Gleissner says the project will be complete next June.