FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 9, 2014) – Governor Steve Beshear on Monday joined local officials to break ground for affordable homes in the former Southend Park of Davis Bottom, an area affected by a major transportation project in downtown Lexington.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is mitigating the displacement of low-income families as a result of the Newtown Pike Extension project.
The project, which when complete will provide a connection between Interstate 75 and the University of Kentucky, has been identified as a transportation need since the 1950s. One leg of that connection became a reality in 2008 with the completion of Oliver Lewis Way between Main Street and Versailles Road.
“Providing better transportation access in Lexington is important for this community and our entire Commonwealth,” Gov. Beshear said. “But at the same time, it’s also important that we carefully plan our transportation projects to minimize their sometimes adverse effect on local residents.”
In a cooperative effort by KYTC, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG), Federal Highway Administration and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), federal and state transportation funds were used to acquire 25 acres of the former Southend Park neighborhood. A developer, AU Associates, is constructing and will manage 14 rental units on the site.
As many as six other homes for private ownership will be constructed by Logan Builders, Webb-Beatty Homes and Habitat for Humanity. The Lexington Community Land Trust will own the land, while the dwelling units will be owned by either the Land Trust or private developers who hold land leases with the Land Trust. This is the first land trust of its kind in Kentucky.
“It is essential to that area that we build these homes for the displaced residents. Affordable housing is much needed and is a priority of mine,” said state Sen. Reginald L. Thomas, of Lexington. “I am very pleased to see this important project moving forward and am glad that I could help obtain funding to see it continued.”
KYTC and LFUCG entered into a contract in 2013 to build the streets, storm sewers and sanitary sewers. KYTC has spent more than $10 million on the project – $6.95 million for right of way acquisition and $3.6 million for infrastructure improvements and utility relocations.
“I’m happy to see this portion of the ongoing Newtown Pike extension move forward, because it fulfills the promise to help those displaced by this project while also boosting access to affordable housing for other families as well,” said state Rep. Kelly Flood, of Lexington. “I want to thank Gov. Beshear for being here today, and I look forward to the completion of this work. It’s a great example of our local, state and federal governments coming together to help improve our community.”
Construction has begun on the rental units. The next phase is construction of homes for private ownership. The Urban County Government has invested $627,000 in HUD HOME funding for construction of the rental units. Additional funding for the rental housing – $1.7 million – is from HUD HOME and a program that allows investors to provide capital for low-income housing units in exchange for federal tax credits.
Residents who were displaced by the project and are moving into the rental units will receive housing relocation and other mitigation benefits that will assist them in rents for 10 years.
Construction of the homes for private ownership will be financed by the acquisition cost and relocation and mitigation benefits received by homeowners who were displaced by the project.
“This project combines construction of new, affordable housing, neighborhood preservation and improved traffic flow – all important goals and hard to accomplish together,” Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said. “After years on the drawing board with little progress, working with the state we’re moving this project forward, and we’re doing it the right way, not right away.”
“Lexington Community Land Trust is so grateful to the Federal Highway Administration, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Kentucky Housing Corporation and our partners – AU Associates and Community Affordable Housing Equity Corporation, as well as Lexington Habitat for Humanity, Logan Builders, and Webb-Beatty Homes,” said Barbara W. Navin, executive director of Lexington Community Land Trust. “The enormous efforts and contributions of all are bringing needed, permanently affordable homes to the people and community of the new Davis Park.”
Residents who qualify for housing can contact the Lexington Community Land Trust to apply for homes to rent or own via the website www.lexingtonclt.org, or by calling 859- 303-5223.