Tuesday, June 05, 2007

West End Makes Gains

It is no secret that Louisville's West End is an economically distressed and segregated area. However, I'm sure it isn't common knowledge that since 2000 the West End has had the city's largest gains in property values.

Since 2000 the average increase in property values has been 32 percent city wide, but some urban neighborhoods in the West End, and near to downtown, have seen property values more than double in less than 6 years. The West End neighborhood of Russell has seen some of the highest gains - 113 percent - in the city. Much of it is thanks to a 17 year effort to redevelop the area into a healthy neighborhood for the black middle class. In that time period 500 new homes and apartments have been built on formerly vacant lots and replaced abandoned buildings.

The reemergence of Russell as a viable neighborhood is a testament to what good can be done through government and private projects. Early on, the city of Louisville offered developers tax credits to build new, affordable housing and sold parcels of land it owned for only a dollar to qualified builders. Now, several builders are no longer requesting city assistance as the community continues to "clean up" and they're able to rent or sell their properties for closer to actual market rate prices.

Russell is not the only neighborhood in the central city to see such huge increases in value - Phoenix Hill and Park DuValle also saw a doubling of their property values, and Old Louisville, Portland, California, and Shively all saw increases between 75 and 100 percent. Park DuValle, which saw a jump in property values of nearly 250 percent, now is near parity with the city's average property value. Only six years ago Park DuValle had a property valuation 25 percent of average.

The city is continuing to push for continued regrowth in the West End. In the latest budget set forth by the mayor, he would like to spend nearly 1.5 million dollars to redevelop brown fields in the Park Hill neighborhood. The city is also working with developers to transform the hulking Phillip Morris plant into a community and retail magnet for the entire western section of Louisville. Hopefully, the recent gains will continue for the central city.

On a side note, only 3 tracts in the city had a decrease in property value. Minor Lane Heights was the largest and their decrease was due to the expansion of the airport and because the whole Minor Lane Heights neighborhood is being bought out by the state due to airplane noise. The other two, which are located in the CBD, surprised me. I am not sure exactly how much property values went down in the CBD, but with the billions in recent development, it was a shock none the less.

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