Planning Director Steve Ervin made a presentation to the Paducah Board of Commissioners on January 24, 2017 of the work since last August by the Planning Department and the Urban Renewal & Community Development Agency (URCDA) regarding the study of the next neighborhood for revitalization.
Since 2007, the City has been focused on a comprehensive revitalization of the Fountain Avenue Neighborhood which has been a very successful project. Over the last few months, the Planning Department and URCDA worked to select criteria in which to score five potential neighborhoods for revitalization. Ervin says, “The criteria were designed to put less weight on the deficiencies of a neighborhood and attempt to focus more on the available assets of a neighborhood and its potential for sustained growth and development.” The eight scoring criteria used are
1. Number of neighborhood and/or adjacent neighborhood assets;
2. Ability to attract private reinvestment;
3. Ability to obtain high sales comps;
4. Governmental capacity to attack neighborhood problems such as crime, code enforcement, and infrastructure;
5. Proximity to schools, shopping centers, social services, recreation, and pharmacies;
6. Achievable rehabilitation costs;
7. Positive spillover-effect from adjacent neighborhoods; and
8. Obstacles to proceed.
The five neighborhoods under consideration are Terrell Addition, Frenchtown, Glendale, Guthrie, and Kolb (see boundary details below). Planning staff researched and compiled data for each neighborhood including total land acres, number and type of parcels (residential, commercial, vacant, industrial, institutional, park, parking, conservancy), average residential sales price, a code enforcement score, median household income, housing stock rating, and percent renter versus owner-occupied.
URCDA scored the neighborhoods using the eight criteria at its meeting in January. URCDA unanimously gave Terrell Addition the lowest score which means it would have the highest chance of being a successful project. This is the neighborhood just west of the current Fountain Avenue Neighborhood Project. Valerie Pollard with URCDA says the board members looked at each neighborhood’s positives and deficiencies and the ability to attract private investment. Pollard says, “The Board members were pretty consistent in their neighborhood ratings.”
Ervin says, “There are many neighborhoods within the City limits that could benefit from redevelopment efforts. Therefore, it is important that the selection process not only includes an assessment of a neighborhood’s current conditions but that it also includes a comprehensive evaluation of the neighborhood’s potential to have a sustainable and positive impact on the community at large.” City Manager Jeff Pederson says, “This is a limited role for the City to play. But ultimately the large majority of investment would occur privately over time.”
The Paducah Board of Commissioners will review the information presented to them at this meeting and the recommendation by URCDA. Once the Commission makes a decision, the next steps in the process would include neighborhood meetings, the preparation and approval of a revitalization plan, and public hearings. Then, the Planning Department would be in charge of implementing the plan over the next several years in a process similar to the Fountain Avenue Neighborhood Revitalization Project.
Due to the successful revitalization of the Lower Town and Fountain Avenue Neighborhoods, City Manager Jeff Pederson and Planning Director Steve Ervin led the Paducah Board of Commissioners in a workshop regarding neighborhood revitalization, neighborhood changes, and healthy neighborhoods. Pederson said, “The purpose tonight is to engage the Commission in a review and discussion of what we want to accomplish with neighborhood revitalization. We have had some wonderful outcomes and look forward to doing that again.” Mayor Gayle Kaler said, “Our main goal is to have more investment in the City, bring families back to the City, and have save and healthy neighborhoods.” Ervin says a healthy neighborhood is a place where it makes economic and emotional sense for people to invest time, energy, and money. The ultimate goals for neighborhood revitalization include are to increase a neighborhood’s safety, create a strong ‘sense of place,’ and become a place where people want to live and invest.
Ervin said that in selecting a neighborhood to revitalize, the following question needs to be asked: What will make or makes the next neighborhood attractive enough for people to be willing to reinvest their money and live in the neighborhood when they have the means to live elsewhere in other currently desirable neighborhoods? Ervin also explained that in order to create positive change in a neighborhood, we need to first determine factors such as what is working or not working in terms of people’s decisions to invest and what issues have led to the neighborhood’s decline. Also, to revitalize a neighborhood it should incorporate a team approach, as has been done in Fountain Avenue and Lower Town, involving the neighborhood residents, community, and city departments. Ervin said, “It’s creating that vision and selling that vision within a well-defined area.”
Ervin also provided a list of selection criteria for consideration as Paducah goes through the process to select the next neighborhood revitalization project. The criteria include
Ervin suggested to the Commission that the Urban Renewal & Community Development Agency (URCDA) be asked to assist with the neighborhood selection plan by selecting several neighborhoods and coming up with strategies for each neighborhood. Ervin said, “We will look at pros and cons of all neighborhoods.” URCDA is a board authorized under Kentucky Revised Statutes to oversee neighborhood redevelopment.