Louisville Metro Housing Authority officials recently announced plans to tear down the Sheppard Square housing complex just south of Broadway in the Smoketown-Jackson Park neighborhood. When complete, the new mixed-income development will transform four blocks of Smoketown into a revitalized community embracing the urban fabric of the city.
Tearing down housing projects and replacing them with mixed-income neighborhoods is part of a Federal program called Hope VI and has successfully been used to replace the Cotter Lang Homes with Park DuValle and the Clarksdale Homes with Liberty Green. The Hope VI concept aims to disperse clusters of poverty associated with mid-twentieth-century barracks-style housing projects by building a mix of houses and apartments for a range of income levels. While the Metro Housing Authority maintains its commitment to replace the existing 326 units in Sheppard Square one-for-one, some may be at other locations around the Louisville area such as apartment complexes.
Estimated to cost around $200 million, funding will be sought from a $20 million Federal grant and other public and private sources. Funds for the Hope VI program were initially made available under the Clinton administration, but were scaled back under the Bush administration after the president called for the the program’s removal. Metro Housing Authority Executive Director Tim Barry believes that with Louisville’s successful record at Park DuValle and Liberty Green combined with the smaller scale of the Sheppard Square complex, funding shouldn’t be an issue.
Several years ago, preliminary community meetings were held to determine how the project might proceed. Planning firm Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh created a series of renderings to describe what it possible in the area around Sheppard Square. While not a definite representation of what will be built, the renderings show a community of mixed-use urban buildings, apartments, and houses surrounding a park. Here’s what UDA says about such a neighborhood:
UDA plans provide a mixed-income array of housing types and costs that address the changing needs of people at different life stages. Studies have shown that the social capital created in such neighborhoods situated within walking distance of daily services, schools, and churches, is a key factor in community stability, the health of residents, and in providing role models who inspire young people and, thus support the economic and social mobility of the neighborhoods’ citizens. UDA has pioneered this return to traditional neighborhood development and remains at the forefront of these efforts.
Like Liberty Green, streets long ago removed could be replaced to create smaller scaled blocks. One example in Sheppard Square is Roselane Street which once ran through the center of the housing project (see map after the click). Reintroducing the street would create an area of seven small blocks. Hancock Street, currently closed to through traffic, could be reopened as part of the plan.