The city of Owensboro’s neighborhood revitalization strategy area development plan is shifting its focus to the Northwest Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area.
NRSA is a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grantee-designated area targeted for revitalization. An NRSA is different from other local targeted areas in that the designation is reviewed and approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Prior to focusing on the Northwest NRSA, the city had completed the BaptistTown Neighborhood Redevelopment (2000-2004), the Old Germantown Neighborhood Redevelopment (2004-2010), the Mechanicsville Neighborhood Redevelopment (2010-2014) and most recently, the Triplett Twist District (2015-2020). Upon the completion of these projects, the city felt it was time to focus in on Northwest, said Abby Shelton, community development director.
“Every five years we have to submit a consolidated plan to HUD laying out what we are going to do with their money,” she said. “Within that plan, cities that receive these funds have an option to pick out a certain number of census tracks that that are statistically 51% low to moderate income. The Northwest neighborhood is a gateway and in the past, we have focused on the other neighborhoods surrounding downtown and this will round out the whole surrounding downtown area. This area has some of our oldest neighborhoods and with the way many structures were built, a major focus will be on architecture and history and how we can infuse life back into it. The goal is revitalization.”
The Northwest NRSA encompasses 367 acres, 1,083 parcels of property and is 69% residential, with 31% commercial, industrial and other public use properties.
The Northwest NRSA is generally bounded on the north by the municipal limits, Ohio River, West First Street, Ebach Street and Schroth Street; on the south by the north side of Fifth Street; on the east by Walnut Street and on the west by Ewing Road and Texas Avenue.
In all, the Northwest project includes 25 defined neighborhoods, including Baers, Baptist Town Estates, Burdette Addition, Chesterfield Court Addition, Dunphy’s Addition, Ewings, Fraysters Addition, Gilmour Place Addition, Glass Factory, Herrs, Homestead, Lancaster & Goff, Lock View, Lucas Place Addition, McCallister Place Addition, Nelson Place Addition, Paradise Garden, Phillip Edge, R. Monarchs Addition, River Crest Townhomes, Robert L Miller, Shelby’s Addition, Sinnet Addition, Taylor’s Addition and West Fourth Street.
For this year, the project has $499,972 in its coffers and as the project develops into each subsequent year, the money will be used for residential rehab programs, commercial improvements, beautification improvement programs, safety improvements, property maintenance issues and home buyer/home ownership stabilization programs.
Part of the development of the programming and the city’s assessment of the area’s needs came through the identification of need via the Northwest NRSA Redevelopment Advisory Team made up area residents and business owners.
Major areas of need that the programming will focus on as identified by the team include uncertainties around recommending the area for residence, stagnant growth, safety issues, crime, drugs, lack of green spaces, lack of business opportunity, appearance and quality of housing stock, lack of affordable housing, lack of shopping facilities, poor street and alley maintenance, litter, lack of housing maintenance, lack of opportunity for new business, lack of community life, lack of yard maintenance, loitering and transients, and the Cadillac Motel.
The plan is extensive and the needs identified are equally so, but that is the purpose of the funding and the NRSA — to be able to not only focus on the needs of an area but bring citizens, nonprofits, and private entities and businesses into the fold to grow a community hand in hand, Shelton said.
“We will focus on things like down payment assistance for qualifying first-time homeowners,” she said. “Habitat for Humanity and our community housing development entities will also be involved in the process of revitalization. A major aspect and requirement of the program is to foster minority-owned businesses. For instance, there is a business facade grant which will allow owners to make needed improvements to the street facing forward face of their business, which is important given that it is a major corridor.”
It takes a village as the adage goes and in this kind of extensive project all parties are involved, she said.
“The way these projects function, it requires a mix of private investment as well,” she said. “It isn’t just the government. It is about involving the citizens that live and work in the community and allowing them to invest in their community without being overly burdened to do so. It is a process where the government and the citizens work in tandem to bring their communities to the standard that they want them to be and gives them a sense of ownership.”
The city has not received its agreement from HUD as of yet, but when it does, the process of informing the community about these programs will begin, she said.
“We are working on postcards to send out to the addresses in the area to let them know about the programming and how to find applications and apply,” she said. “We are also hoping to hold public meetings when we are allowed to hold them again, which so far we have not been able to do.”
Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, firstname.lastname@example.org