Liberty Green: A New Tradition in Downtown Living
Liberty Green is the new name for the over $200 million, mixed income community now under construction in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood that replaced the 1940’s era public housing development known as Clarksdale. The name is drawn from Liberty Street, the center roadway through the six-block area on the eastern edge of downtown Louisville. The roadway was originally called Green Street because it was a grassy area where horses came to graze, but was officially changed in 1918 to Liberty Street, when the community voiced its new patriotic fervor after World War I.
Plans for this new community were three years in the making, but from day one the goals of those involved in the Clarksdale HOPE VI initiative have been the same — to create a new community that invites investment and opportunity along with vastly improved housing. "Liberty Green reflects both the heritage of the past and our hope for the future," said Mayor Jerry Abramson. "With a mix of housing and design options, this neighborhood will give freedom of choice to people who previously had little choice about the place they called home."
As the result of the revitalization effort, new housing replaced the public housing development, and required the relocation of more than 700 Clarksdale residents. Residents chose between a variety of housing options, and moving costs were borne by the Louisville Metro Housing Authority (LMHA). Priority was given to those with special needs – the elderly, families with children and residents with disabilities or medical problems. In addition to covering the costs of relocation, LMHA provided a variety of other relocation services to the residents including an on-site relocation office with flexible hours, transportation assistance, and financial skills counseling. LMHA will replace every housing unit from the Clarksdale development either in Liberty Green or elsewhere in the community. In addition to assistance with relocation, one-on-one meetings were held with Clarksdale residents to assess their housing needs and wishes. One of the unique features of the Clarksdale HOPE VI revitalization is the Community and Supportive Services (CSS) component. Through the CSS Plan, a comprehensive array of services and programs are made available to residents to help them move towards self-sufficiency. LMHA staff works with residents (individuals and families) to assess their needs, connect them with services and monitor their future progress. "We're building on our success in redeveloping neighborhoods by putting emphasis on meeting human needs as the old structures come down and the new mixed-income housing is built," said Tim Barry, Executive Director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority.
Pushing the Initiative Forward
LMHA selected on-site and off-site developer partners with significant expertise in housing development and experience in the Louisville metro area for the Clarksdale HOPE VI initiative. The Community Builders (TCB), a national firm which managed the development of Park DuValle, is the on-site developer partner overseeing the construction of the units that will be on the six acres of land now called Liberty Green. TCB has been involved in HOPE VI projects since 1995. New Directions Housing Corporation, The Housing Partnership, Inc., River City Housing, and Metro Housing Resource Center are the off-site developer partners that are building some of the new replacement units off-site. Phase I of the off-site development includes 176 units, both new construction and by acquisition. Phase II will consist of an additional 218 units. All of these units are scattered throughout the community, and honor the pledge of one-for-one replacement of affordable housing units from Clarksdale.
Making Way for a New Day
The first housing units became available for occupancy in 2006. David Cosby, President of David Cosby and Associates (a certified MBE - Minority Business Enterprise), was the General Contractor. Minority business inclusion has been, and will continue to be, an important component as construction moves forward. Collectively, over 25% of the companies involved to-date are minority owned businesses. "Our HOPE VI initiative partners have come together in a big way to help create a new mixed income neighborhood at Liberty Green and a more diverse community throughout all of our neighborhoods," said Mayor Abramson. "Like Park DuValle, we are proving that we can create a neighborhood where people from all walks of life, of all income levels, can live as a vibrant community."
Urban Design Associates crafted the master plan, building on the historic character of Louisville, using a mix of attractive housing types to create a mixed-income community. The new community will include street improvements, parks and commercial development to serve all Phoenix Hill residents.
HOPE VI is a federal program created in 1992 by the National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, which was charged with proposing a National Action Plan to eradicate severely distressed public housing. The Commission recommended revitalization in three general areas: physical improvements, management improvements and social and community services to address resident needs. Louisville also received Hope VI grants for the successful Park DuValle Revitalization Initiative.