The project has been about 12 years in the making, as 20-acres of land was donated to Habitat in 2006 from Calvin and Merritt Marcus. With significant outside investment from the Metro Louisville Department of Housing, Metropolitan Sewer District and the Renau Foundation, the Park Springs development broke ground in November 2017.
“The thought behind this is that every Louisville citizen deserves affordable housing choices, both where to live and what type of place they live in, and it shouldn’t be restricted to just any one part of town,” said Mayor Greg Fischer at Tuesday morning’s news conference.
“We see it all over the country and all over the world,” Fischer said. “When you see mixed-income you have more vibrant neighborhoods, you see more economically vibrant cities as well. It’s not only critical from an economic standpoint, it’s important to us from a cultural standpoint and a compassion standpoint to have this type of choice.”
The subdivision is a reminder that everything is possible, said Rob Locke, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville. “The street one block over is called Possibility Way,” Locke said. “We called it that because at the core, we wanted to give people a chance. To remind them that at the core, there’s a possibility to do more than where you are right now.”
Some homeowners are already in homes, Locke said.
“This morning as I came in, in the first Habitat home on the hill — they had been waiting for two years,” he said. “They saw this property when there was nothing but woods. This morning, this mom was standing out near the Park Springs sign waiting with her kids to get on the bus. I think there is no way to measure the transformation that occurs when mom and dad get to help their kids have a stable home.”
The homes in Park Springs range from about $150,000 to $250,000, and there are also lots for owners to buy and build on. Many of the people who work nearby are unable to afford housing anywhere near their jobs.
“The heart of workforce housing is that employees should be able to afford housing in the communities in which they work,” said Andrew Hawes of the Housing Partnership Inc.
“There are multiple benefits to doing so,” Hawes said. “As we look across the city, we see that people in our communities cannot afford to live in the neighborhood in which they work. They are no longer our neighbors, and for that, we all suffer. The mayor, HPI and Habitat feel that it’s critically important that the working citizens in our community have access to reasonably priced housing, which the Park Springs community will provide those opportunities.”
Four members of the Marcus family were present at the event, and Fischer thanked them for their donation. “When you talk about a legacy, and you look back on your life and say, ‘Did I make a difference?’ ” he said. “Exclamation points for you guys.”