Selling Out Park Hill?

Neighborhood Map

(neighborhood map from the Courier-Journal)

Even though it’s a few days old, we haven’t seen much discussion on the internets around Louisville’s plan to “revitalize” a large portion of the Algonquin, California and Park Hill neighborhoods. The Courier-Journal published this story about the plan last Wednesday — City plans to bring ‘real change’ to poor areas:

Michael Brooks is rooted in the California neighborhood. He’s the third generation to live in the West Oak Street house his family has owned since before World War II.

Brooks remembers when the area thrived with doctors and lawyers. Now it’s among the poorest neighborhoods in Louisville — in need of more retail and better streets, he said.

“There are a lot of dead-end streets in this area. A lot of dead-end streets,” Brooks said. “These streets kind of isolate the neighborhood residents from the outside world.”

City consultants are suggesting major changes to the area, including the confusing network of streets in California and other neighborhoods in the Park Hill industrial corridor.

The ideas will be weighed as part of a master plan to guide development. City officials launched the plan’s nine-month public-involvement period during a meeting last night.

Ideas suggested for consideration include:

Adding an $80 million Interstate 65 exit at Hill Street to increase truck access into the area.

Converting portions of Kentucky and Breckenridge streets to two-way traffic between roughly Eighth Street and I-65 at a cost of up to $3 million.

Opening Kentucky Street to through traffic west of 15th Street at a cost of $5,000.

Spending up to $2 million to build a rail crossing on Cardinal Boulevard west of Fourth Street to improve access to future development at the former American Standard plant.

The plan’s goal will be to attract businesses, create green spaces and connect neighborhoods.

Officials and consultants acknowledge that the ambitious effort comes as the city and state face austere budgets. Yet they say long-term planning efforts laid the groundwork for projects such as Waterfront Park, the former home of industrial sites along the Ohio River.

Bruce Traughber, the city’s economic development director, said private businesses will have a role in the master plan.

“We want to be in a position to have something that will happen immediately on the ground, led by the private sector,” Traughber told about 50 people at the meeting at the Sud-Chemie chemical company on West Hill Street. “That’s what we’re looking for, and that’s our hope out of this project. We want to be able to see real change.”

Bruce Blue, president and chief executive of Freedom Metals, a scrap-metal company with two locations in the area, said funding might be difficult for projects in Park Hill.

But, he said, “At some point you’ve got to spend some money in this area. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I guess we’re the squeaky wheel now.”

Blue and Brooks, the California neighborhood resident, both are members of an advisory committee appointed by Mayor Jerry Abramson.

Speaking at last night’s meeting, Abramson noted studies on the Park Hill corridor and said, “It’s now time to start talking about implementation.

“There are a lot of people that have been dreaming about taking this area and doing something with it for a long, long time, but I think this is probably the most aggressive effort we’ve ever had.”

The target area, known as the Park Hill corridor, roughly includes Broadway to the north and Algonquin Parkway and Winkler Avenue to the south, parts of Old Louisville and the University of Louisville to the east and 22nd Street to the west.

The area is largely black, with higher poverty levels and lower household incomes than Louisville as a whole, according to U.S. Census data.

It includes parts of the California, Algonquin and Park Hill neighborhoods.

Consultants have finished two studies they say will influence the master plan, which will focus on about 1,400 acres of the corridor’s industrial areas.

Private businesses or government agencies are paying for most of the studies.

The city is paying $100,000 in matching costs for a real-estate analysis.

The $200,000 analysis by Economics Research Associates examined possible land uses. It found that the Park Hill area could support new office and industrial space and urged officials to focus on attracting businesses such as publishing and printing, metal manufacturing and processed foods.

A $62,500 transportation study by the ENTRAN engineering firm calls for more than $144 million in changes to roads within the corridor.

They include, for example, an extension of 12th Street to Industry Road at Seventh Street that would improve access to the former Rhodia site nearby. The city is clearing the former chemical plant at 11th and Hill streets and marketing it to potential buyers.

So will this plan be a panacea for one of the poorest sections of Louisville? Or will it be a sop to Louisville’s developers, ie. the already-wealthy? What do you think? We’d like to know, so feel free to comment!

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3 Responses to “Selling Out Park Hill?”

  1. This plan seems to actually have some thought behind it, unlike much of the other stuff that our local ‘leaders’ come up with. They seem to be attempting to make the area more attractive to real businesses and not just service-oriented stuff like hotels and restaurants.

    If we can be honest though, any effort down there is going to have to be realistic about crime in the area. That will be a concern for any business considering a re-location.

  2. I enjoyed your perspective, but please consider changing your design to have more contrast. Reading the direct quote in gray over black was a bit of a strain.

  3. The area was destroyed by the trucks and the industries with environmental and air pollution. To even think modifying Hill Street as a truck corridor to the inner city I-65 shows a lack of future planning. After the Gene Snider bridges are built all trucks should be sent around the City. Local trucks to use only dedicated non residential roads such as 7th Street, Ninth Street etc. in a radius straight out/or in the area to the Snyder Loop. I-65 within Snyder or then would be limited to cars only. Cincy and Covington have done a similar thing.
    The Courier article seems to be one sided and the area does look like a land grab by a few opportunists. The mention of crime to be the least of a problem. I think the resulting current dead end streets were for community protection. The outsiders Including the diesel smoke smell from trucks. passing through being a disturbance to any residential.
    The Hill Street East area is a historic area and is a fine residential area. Trucks and any additional traffic needs to be sent south to the new Central Avenue Corridor at the least.

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