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Recut: There's A Thin Line Between Revitalization And Gentrification

Beecher Terrace in 2016
Beecher Terrace in 2016

We've seen it before: A neighborhood dealing with high poverty and crime, and offering few economic prospects, is given a boost.

State and federal investments for new projects are approved. Maybe a new, trendy restaurant or bar or coffee shop comes in — thanks to the low property costs — and soon, other businesses follow. Developers begin to buy homes in the area for cheap and flip them for big profits.

Property values and property taxes rise, and before you know it, the neighborhood barely resembles its former self. And the people who've lived there for years, some of them for decades, can no longer afford to live in the place they call home.

There's no denying that West Louisville needs a boost. At one time, jobs were plentiful and businesses thrived. The Russell neighborhood was even nicknamed “Louisville’s Harlem.” But that was a long time ago. Many residents in the west now live in poverty, and rates of crime in the West End are among the highest in the city.

But with major investment for new projects ahead — including a new track and field sports complex, a renovated Beecher Terrace, and a neighborhood YMCA — West Louisville is likely headed for big changes.

Today on Recut, WFPL's Kyeland Jackson joins me to talk about revitalization efforts in the West End, and we discuss the line between neighborhood renewal and gentrification.

Jonese Franklin

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