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Long-Planned Portland Affordable Housing Complex Secures Funding

Affordable housing site in Portland
An affordable housing site in Portland from February 2019. The Metropolitan Housing Coalition advocates for affordable housing across Louisville.

An affordable housing complex in the Portland neighborhood that's been in the works for more than two years has finally secured the funding it needs to proceed.

The 24-unit, multi-building complex is slated for 2506 Montgomery St., next to the historic Dolfinger Building. The project is expected to cost $2.9 million and include 2- and 3-bedroom apartments with rents ranging from $725 to $850 a month, according to developer Andrew Hawes, of the nonprofit Housing Partnership.

Hawes said some of the financing for the Montgomery Apartments is from traditional bank loans, but that the complex would not have been possible without money from the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The developers received $1 million for this project from the Trust Fund last year, according to a news release.

"The only way we could have made it work without the Trust funds would be to charge much higher rents to pay down much higher debt and that area could not support the higher rent," Hawes said.

He said construction could start this spring, and would take about a year to complete.

"I do you believe it'll be very well received, considering the rents that we're charging are similar to the rents that people are paying to live in some pretty outdated homes in that area," Hawes said.

The Housing Partnership is working with Gill Holland, a prominent Louisville real estate developer and Portland promoter, on the project. Holland owns the parcel of land where the apartment buildings and green space will go. He announced the funding Thursday morning at a community breakfast event.

Holland is the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Adam Edelen. He is also a board member of Louisville Public Media, the parent organization of WFPL News. Holland is on leave from the board for the entirety of the campaign, per LPM policy.

Records show the city approved detailed plans for the project last May, but Holland said trouble securing loans had prevented it from moving forward. He said developers struggle to get construction loans unless they've signed leases, but without apartments to rent out, Holland and his team don't yet know who will live there.

Difficulty securing loans is a major problem for property owners in lower income neighborhoods, particularly in west Louisville neighborhoods where vacant properties are prevalent. That is particularly true for those working on single family homes.

"I'm in a situation where I can personally guarantee some loans, obviously most people can't do that," Holland said. "Even then, sometimes, it's been challenging to get loans."

Officials agree that Louisville needs more affordable housing throughout, but developments sometimes face challenges from lawmakers and potential neighbors. Reports indicate that the city needs another 60,000 affordable units.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.