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Construction Underway On Housing For Residents Displaced By Newtown Extension

Josh James

Officials broke ground Monday on affordable housing for residents displaced by the Newtown Pike Extension project.

"So we've got eight homes along this stretch, facing the park... the eventual park," Barbara Navin explains, pointing down the empty former Southend Park in the Davis Bottom area of town.

The Lexington Community Land Trust director says single family housing, rental units, and mixed use buildings will soon populate a full 25-acre area – and serve as a new neighborhood for many who found their homes in the path of the I-75/University of Kentucky connector.

Byron Mitchell has lived in the affected area all his life.

"It is a little difficult when you look down you see where you come from, the house you used to live in, but you know, my parents passed five years ago [and] they knew this is what they wanted. So they knew it was coming, but they said, you know, just stick around and go for it," he says.

While Mitchell says many of his neighbors have elected to move elsewhere, he’s hopeful the new construction will revive the community, in part by offering a new kind of deal for residents living in affordable housing.

The land trust will own the land and homeowners will have a long-term leasehold estate, allowing them to leave their houses to spouses or children while paying a small fee to the trust.

"These subsidies stay in the home, providing that permanent affordability owner after owner. So it's a really good way to take those public dollars and get the biggest bang for your buck in affordable housing," Navin says.

Residents moving into rental units will receive housing relocation and other mitigation benefits to assist them with rent for the next 10 years.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.