(Louisville) Smart Growth Restores Urban Decay
East Russell was once a solid working-class neighborhood with a good sense of
community, but in the 1960s and 1970s it began to decline. As shops closed and buildings
fell into disrepair, crime increased and the neighborhood became trapped in the spiral of
urban decay. Many thought inner-city communities like East Russell could never thrive
again. But recent efforts to revitalize the area using smart-growth planning have worked
BEFORE:The neighborhood of East Russell in Louisville, Ky.
suffered the fate of all-too many downtown areas when began its decline several decades
ago. Boarded-up housing and litter lined its streets.
AFTER: Thanks to a unique partnership between the University of
Louisville, non-profits, the city, developers, churches and residents, East Russell now
offers hundreds of quality homes near jobs, shops and entertainment.
This collaboration between the University of Louisville's Sustainable Urban
Neighborhoods program, the city, private developers and local residents used a holistic
approach that combined redevelopment with intensive outreach. The project did more than
build buildings, it also gave residents the tools and training they needed to turn things
around. Instead of a top-down approach, the project empowered those who lived in the
neighborhood to take possession of their community.
One result of that process: Residents expressed a strong preference for creating new
housing for sale instead of rental units or public housing. So, chief among the plans was
the construction or rehabilitation of affordable houses that low-income residents could
buy. Since then, 500 quality homes have been built close to downtown, jobs have been
created and millions of dollars of investment are flowing into the neighborhood.
Now that crime is down and the area is showing signs of life, a bookstore and movie
theater have recently opened and more business is on the way. A growing neighborhood
business area, new housing and a great location close to jobs and transit have turned this
once-abandoned community into a smart-growth success story.
Photo: Micheal Brazely, a Ph.D. student at Louisville who assisted with the
architechture design for the new homes.
photo by: John Gilderbloom
(Lexington) Town Loses 100-Year-Old Farm to Sprawl
Lexington is an area of rolling hills and bucolic farms. But the growing
loss of these farms to suburban sprawl has many long-time residents worried. The
conversion of Hamburg Place, a historic farm outside of Lexington, is emblematic of the
changes that poorly planned growth is bringing to Kentucky.
Hamburg Place was a century-old farm beloved by residents of the area that was turned
into a classic suburban strip mall. Where once there were 400 acres of trees and pasture
there is now an Old Navy clothing franchise and lots of parking.
In fact, no significant efforts were taken to break out of the suburban-sprawl mold.
The mall has little access to public transportation and is not pedestrian-friendly. Its
location on the outskirts of Lexington is sure to increase traffic on nearby roads.