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Federal funds on hold for NW Revitalization; City discusses plans for $500K investment

September 11, 2020 | 12:10 am

Updated September 11, 2020 | 3:39 am

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Federal funds for the Northwest Revitalization project, slated to have begun in July, are currently on hold as City officials await approval. While the Community Development department waits on these funds, City Commissioners this week discussed a variety of grant programs available that could make use of the $500,000 allocated toward the project. 

“As we discussed last year, we are now moving to the northwest side of town with the revitalization efforts,” Community Development Director Abby Shelton said. “Over the next five years, we expect to invest $3.8 million in funding within this area. This is federal programming between HOME and CDBG funds.” 

The money for the NRSA — including CARES Act, CDBG and HOME funds — is currently unable to be administered due to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Louisville experiencing computer software programs. 

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That includes $297,144 in CARES Act funds, $499,972 in CDBG funds and $266,184 in HOME funds. All of that money was budgeted to be used in the first phase of the Northwest Revitalization Project. 

“I cannot use the funds until I have plan approval,” Shelton said. 

Despite the holdup on federal funds, Shelton shared a number of grant and loan programs the City could allocate $500,000 toward. City Manager Nate Pagan said that money had been budgeted for the revitalization project ahead of time. 

“The idea was to have programs that would be easier to administer — easier for the residents, homeowners or investors to maybe help double down on some northwest side improvements,” he said. “The local funds could potentially augment or complement the federal funds to where we could use local funding maybe for residential properties and use federal funds that are more complicated for the more commercial activities.” 

One program involves a single-family rental housing grant or loan that could total $500,000 and benefit up to 33 units. The property owners could match up to $15,000 for interior improvements. 

  • Another program involves a developer/homeowner grant or loan that includes investor house flipping to be sold or bought and used as a primary residence. As another $15,000 grant or loan, the homeowner could match the amount for interior improvements and up to 33 units could be improved.
  • Another program involves a developer/homeowner grant or loan that would take a square-footage subsidy into consideration. Shelton said that would help about 23 units.
  • Another program involves a developer/homeowner grant or loan “up to $20,000 straight,” Shelton said. It would include interior and exterior improvements. The property owner would match interior improvements at 40%. This program would help up to 25 units and would produce $200,000 in private investment. 
  • An apartment complex grant would help up to 33 rental properties in the NRSA. This could include a $20,000 exterior rehab of the unit with a 0% interest seven-year loan. 

“Another idea that’s been expressed throughout the ommission is the need to develop a walkable connection from downtown to English Park and design vistas from First St. to the Ohio River,” Shelton said. “Of course, we’d have to engage a landscape architect for those features.” 

The 2020 budget would include $266,000 in HOME funds and $499,972 in CDBG funds. With the federal funding administered, Shelton said there would be a lot of red tape involved. 

“I would say that some of these programs would discourage anyone from investing and flipping a house because of all the paperwork they’d have to do through my programming,” she said. “[With other programs], they would still have to do paperwork but it would be City-designed. Finance and legal would look at it so it would be a lot less red tape and facilitate a quicker turnaround.” 

The program could be set up to allow developers in the city to flip homes of their choosing. If the City chose, developers could purchase the property first, or they could apply for the grant and go through the programming, Shelton said. 

September 11, 2020 | 12:10 am

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