Displaced by Newtown Pike, Residents Could Return This Year

Jan 22, 2014

Construction moves forward on a road project that’s changing the face of a Lexington neighborhood.  The Newtown Pike Extension Project is displacing many long-time residents of the Davis Bottom community.  It’s a low-income neighborhood, but there’s a plan designed to preserve the community and provide its residents with better housing. 

These trailers serve as temporary homes for Davis Bottom residents displaced by Newtown Pike
Credit Stu Johnson

The work will extend Newtown Pike through the heart of downtown Lexington.  To make way, homes have been demolished and their occupants relocated into rent-free trailers.  Throughout all the road work, Lexington Planning Commissioner Derek Paulsen says they’re trying to protect the Davis Bottom neighborhood..

“The goal was to really preserve that community aspect of it while really upgrading the physical parts of it; new infrastructure, sewer, water, physical housing and really to make it a place where they could be more opportunity,” said Paulsen.

Construction on an apartment complex should begin this spring.  Displaced residents will be allowed into those new homes without a rent increase.

That’s the plan, but its success will in a large part depend on Lexington’s new Land Trust. .  And when built, Trust Director Barbara Navin says it will provide working families with affordable housing.

“We’re talking about working people, we’re not talking about people who generally speaking, coming in, that don’t have an income or don’t have a job,” said Navin.

When complete, Davis Bottom will have both rental housing and single family homes.  It should work because the land trust will retain control over the 26 acres.  The buildings will be privately owned, but not the land.  As a result, the homes should remain affordable and create long term savings.

“Is it the least expensive housing, no, it’s gonna be brand new.  We’re gonna save people on their energy costs by putting in energy star appliances, doing two by six construction, you know really increasing the r value of the roof and the walls,” added Navin. 

Navin says some residents could move into their new homes before fall. 

One of those residents will likely be Hazel Lambert, who now lives nearby, in a trailer.  The long-time resident of Davis Bottom, is happy for the upgraded home, but worries about grocery shopping.

“What we need down there,  we need for me and other people too, I’m pretty sure cause my transportation is walking and I have to get my son to come and take me to Krogers and something like that.  You know we need more stores and stuff down there, you know,” said Lambert. 

City plans for the neighborhood eventually include a commercial development.  Planning Commissioner Paulsen says retailers who locate there will enjoy many of the same benefits and incentives as home owners.

“Some of the retail options, some of the mixed use options that will be in this neighborhood, they’re still to be worked out.  I think that, it again, makes it a more sustainable neighborhood, longer term.  Rather then just housing people in an area, it’s really the idea of how do we try to help build a neighborhood that can really function longer term,” said Paulsen.

Still, Paulsen admits, such improvements and developments may be years in coming.  If the land trust concept works well in Davis Bottoms, director Barbara Navin say it could be expanded…and promote low income housing in other areas of Fayette County.