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The Complex Story Of Redevelopment In Pleasant Ridge, Indiana


Boxing gloves hang from Arretta Griffin's front door.

They're meant to send a message.

"I'm going to go down fighting to save my home," she said.

Griffin, 74, lives in the small neighborhood of Pleasant Ridge in the southern Indiana town of Charlestown, about 30 minutes from Louisville.

The neighborhood is the epicenter of a melodrama that pits a push for redevelopment against the need for affordable housing. Residents in Pleasant Ridge say they're being pushed out to make way for a major development project — what city officials envision as a thriving mixed use community akin to Norton Commons in east Louisville.

Hundreds of residents face eviction this week. Landlords sold scores of homes to a developer — John Neace — to avoid paying fines levied against them by city code enforcement officers.

Those residents, many of whom are poor, now struggle with the next steps. Affordable housing isn't easy to come by in Charlestown.

Alton Strupp is a photographer for The Courier-Journal and Kirsten Clark is a reporter for the newspaper. They've each, along with others at the outlet, dug into the complex story of Pleasant Ridge. They've talked to city officials, developers, attorneys and residents and published a series of stories on the issue.

I met up with Strupp and Clark in Pleasant Ridge to hear about the story from their perspectives. As we walked the streets of the small neighborhood, passing boarded up homes, they recounted the story of nearly every resident they've encountered.

Eventually, we found ourselves on Arretta Griffin's front porch. Griffin owns her home, so she's not worried about eviction. Still, her future isn't so sure. She could still lose her home to eminent domain.

Griffin has lived in Pleasant Ridge for more than 40 years. She doesn't want to leave. She wants to stay. And to do so, she's ready to fight.

Listen to the story in the audio player above.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.