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Smart Growth Illustrated

East Russell Partnership, Louisville, Kentucky

A wide variety of government, non-profit, and business organizations collaborated to revive the East Russell neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky, by listening to the community's demands and responding to its needs. Like many traditionally African-American urban communities, East Russell declined as middle-class residents moved to other areas of the metropolitan region. With little investment, low homeownership, and scarce opportunity, the community was plagued by high poverty, unemployment, crime, homelessness, and school drop-outs.

In 1992, a progressive collaboration involving the University of Louisville; local businesses; federal, state, and city governments; foundations; philanthropic groups; local unions; and non-profit organizations began to revitalize the neighborhood. With the help of $3.5 million in federal grants and a matching donation of $1 million from local organizations, the partnership has supported the construction or refurbishing of more than 600 homes, with hundreds more in the pipeline. They have also supplied a wide range of critical services, including child care and health care. These efforts have improved the commercial areas of the community as pawnshops, liquor stores, and taverns have been replaced by a new bookstore, a movie theater, and an African-American museum. The partnership has been successful thanks to community empowerment. For example, when the initiative began, community leaders intended to provide a range of services along with a minimal number of rental units. However, when local residents expressed the desire to own their own homes, the partnership helped establish low-interest loans and other creative financing to provide former rental tenants with affordable 30-year mortgages.

The East Russell Partnership has received the Sierra Club's Best Practices Award, in 2000, given to successful community development projects across the country.

New houses reflected the many architectural styles that previously existed in the neighborhood.
New houses reflected the many architectural styles that previously existed in the neighborhood, preserving the look and feel of the historic community. Photo courtesy of Dr. John Gilderbloom.
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A boarded up Village West affordable housing complex
This boarded up Village West affordable housing complex was transformed into City Park View apartments, a mix of market rate and affordable homes (see next photo). Photo courtesy of Dr. John Gilderbloom.
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Children play in a water fountain in front of the City Park View apartments.
Children play in a water fountain in front of the City Park View apartments. Photo courtesy of Dr. John Gilderbloom.
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An abandoned school is being transformed into low-cost senior housing.
An abandoned school is being transformed into low-cost senior housing. Photo courtesy of Dr. John Gilderbloom.
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Abandoned, boarded-up shotgun houses lined many blocks in East Russell.
Abandoned, boarded-up shotgun houses lined many blocks in East Russell. However, the small lot sizes supported the development of affordable for-sale homes. Photo courtesy of Dr. John Gilderbloom.
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SMART GROWTH PRINCIPLES
EAST RUSSELL PARTNERSHIP
#1 Mix Land Uses Graphic: check mark
#2 Compact Building Design -
#3 Range of Housing Choices Graphic: check mark
#4 Walkable Neighborhoods -
#5 Distinctive and Attractive Places Graphic: check mark
#6 Preserve Open Spaces and Farmland -
#7 Development in Existing Communities Graphic: check mark
#8 Transportation Choices -
#9 Predictable and Fair Decision Making Graphic: check mark
#10 Community and Stakeholder Participation Graphic: star

KEY
Graphic: star Principle highlighted by case study
Graphic: check mark Other principles illustrated

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