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West End TIF board seeking public feedback in neighborhood meetings

Yellow-painted buildings beyond an empty intersection
Jacob Munoz
A group of local and chain businesses line the Broadway corridor between the Russell and California neighborhoods. A group of Louisville leaders are asking residents in those two communities, and other West End neighborhoods, to give feedback on how to use millions of dollars through a TIF district.

The West End Opportunity Partnership is hosting meetings for residents in the area’s nine neighborhoods, from now through early April. Its board leaders say they want to hear ideas on how to reinvest local tax money back into the communities.

Data shows that Louisville’s West End, a historically redlined part of the city, ranks among the worst for residents’ average economic and health outcomes, compared to other local communities. Most neighborhoods in the area are also majority-Black communities.

Proponents of 2021’s House Bill 321 said that a tax increment financing, or TIF, district in the West End would help address those issues. TIFs aim to promote economic development by giving a portion of tax revenue generated by projects back to a developer.

The bill also created the West End Opportunity Partnership. The nonprofit is tasked with reinvesting a portion of the neighborhoods’ tax money through 2043 back into the TIF district, with a specific focus on business and housing projects

WEOP is now hosting meetings in each of the nine neighborhoods. Its leaders are asking residents to attend their community’s specific event, to identify local problems and offer ideas on how to fix them using the partnership’s funds — which include millions in local and state incentives.

The partnership has already held meetings this month in Portland and Park Duvalle. There are eight more events scheduled:

  • Feb. 20 in California, at the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, 1720 W. Broadway, second floor conference room from 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 22 in Parkland, at the Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, 1368 S. 28th St. from 6-7:30 p.m.
  • March 5 in Russell, at the Louisville Central Community Center, 1300 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. from 6-8 p.m.
  • March 15 in Shawnee, at the Shawnee Golf Course Clubhouse, 460 Northwestern Pkwy. from 6-8 p.m.
  • March 19 in Chickasaw, at the Greater Galilee Baptist Church, 3918 W. Broadway from 6-7:30 p.m.
  • March 21 in Algonquin, at the Lampkins Chapel CME Church, 2738 Algonquin Pkwy. from 6-7:30 p.m.
  • March 28 in Park Hill, at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 1472 Dixie Hwy. from 6-7:30 p.m.
  • April 2 for residents who missed their neighborhood’s meeting, at the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, 1720 W. Broadway, second floor conference room from 6-7:30 p.m.

WEOP representatives are also sharing information at the meetings about how residents who have owned property in the West End since 2021 can claim tax credits and get tax payment assistance. Those options are meant to address increasing property values, which could jump alongside new local development.
Laura Douglas, WEOP’s interim president and CEO, said after Tuesday’s meeting in Park Duvalle that she was glad residents were willing to share their thoughts on how to improve the neighborhood.

Many people at the meeting discussed ideas for improving the local quality of life, including by opening and sustaining grocery stores and offering opportunities for young people, such as through summer jobs.

Douglas said the partnership needs to consider how it can use the money to improve social conditions while supporting itself long-term through revenue-generating ventures.

“It's going to take some real thoughtfulness and some real examination about where are the appropriate places where we can invest,” she said.

The West End TIF has also attracted criticism from residents concerned about how rising costs associated with development could displace local renters, who make up a large portion of West End residents.

Mariel Gardner, who attended the Park Duvalle meeting, has been critical of the initiative. She said she’s concerned that she and others could get pushed out of the area.

“You've got to show up and hold these folks accountable,” Gardner said about the partnership. “There's power in the people of the West End. And if ever there was a time for us to rise up, it's right now.”

Douglas said she thinks that WEOP can replicate the work of other nonprofits to address potential issues renters may face, such as by promoting property ownership opportunities for them.

“Any type of housing solution that the partnership focuses on, has to take into account those folks who are currently renting,” Douglas said.

WEOP’s work comes as other local entities are trying new ways to prevent displacement and help renters become homeowners, like a planned community land trust. Louisville Metro Council also recently passed an ordinance that aims to prevent new projects that use city resources from displacing residents.

This story has been updated to include meeting times.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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