The new HOPE VI development named 810 East Broadway held an official ribbon cutting yesterday. We’ve told you about the building all through construction and gave you a tour of the building last week, but the rest of the news came on board today with fresh coverage after the press event. Some news outlets labeled the 22-unit mixed-use building a “housing project.” We feel this term isn’t appropriate for describing the future of public housing in Louisville.
Housing “projects” are what we’re replacing. The old Clarksdale Homes (pictured above) were torn down to create the mixed-use, mixed-income Liberty Green development. 810 East Broadway is part of that transformation. While the building does have sub-market rate apartments, it’s part of a new approach to public housing called scattered site development where small numbers of units occur all throughout the city. The term housing project, for us at least, still carries a negative stigma from the 20th century equivalent and isn’t constructive to describe the new nature of these developments, especially 810 East Broadway.
But it’s really all just word play. This is a development project and it includes housing. Housing project. So, you could suppose that Waterfront Park Place or the Fleur-de-Lis on Main, or Lake Forest subdivision for that matter are all housing projects. But they don’t get headlines that read “City opens new housing project” from Fox 41. Most were more sensitive. The C-J simply called it “public housing” or an “apartment complex” while Wave 3 says it’s a “housing complex for working families.” WFPL had the best headline reading “New Housing Development Opened Downtown.” It gets to the point without allowing stereotypes to fester beneath stigmatized words. And it generates the most excitement.
This is a new housing development in a beautiful new building that is one of the most contextually sensitive in Louisville. The city should be excited there’s 22 new housing units near downtown and over 3,000 square feet of new market rate retail space on Broadway. This building will be great for the city. The design of the structure (by Kersey & Kersey Architects) may have been a little too good, though. Apparently 810 East Broadway blends so well with its historic surroundings, Wave 3 thought it was a renovation: “The 801 East Broadway building at the corner of Shelby and East Broadway has been completely renovated to provide 16 one-bedroom apartments as well as six two-bedroom apartments.” It’s like the building has been here all along.
Are we concerned about nothing or do you agree 810 East Broadway isn’t a “housing project?” Even Mayor Abramson was delighted that we’ve progressed from warehousing the poor in barracks. Your thoughts in the comments.