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EHEI Award: Enhancing Environment for Human Activities

Preserving Affordable Housing


The transportation planning process for the Newtown Pike Extension in Lexington, Kentucky, incorporated a Community Land Trust (CLT) to preserve affordable housing and community cohesion in the Davistown neighborhood.

Since the 1960s, local and Federal transportation authorities discussed extending the Newtown Pike from I-64 into downtown Lexington. The original plans for the extension included an interstate-style extension that would cut through existing neighborhoods. Local opposition to these plans delayed the project for decades. Although the project was on hold, landowners and developers remained wary of putting capital improvements into neighborhoods that might be affected if the extension ever became a reality.

This reluctance to invest in long-term neighborhood improvements had severe impacts on Lexington's Davistown neighborhood. Davistown is a historically African-American community with a high percentage of affordable housing and low-income residents. The proposals for the Newtown Pike Extension led many landowners to believe that the area would soon be redeveloped, which gave them little incentive to maintain or improve properties in the area. As a result, the area was labeled blight and faced market pressure from residential developers hoping to demolish the existing buildings and redevelop the area.

In 1997, Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) began developing a corridor plan for the Newtown Pike Extension. Transportation planners from these agencies collaborated with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the University of Kentucky, and Davistown residents to develop a mitigation plan for the Newtown Pike Extension?s impact on the Davistown neighborhood.

One major component of the mitigation plan was the formation of a 25-acre CLT in lower Davistown. A CLT enhances housing affordability in an area by removing the land cost from housing prices. This particular CLT also preserves affordable housing by using a resale formula for home values. In Davistown, community representatives govern the CLT board of directors. The CLT board restricts the power of absentee owners and allows residents to determine the future direction of their community.

Another part of the mitigation plan addressed the poor condition of Davistown residential properties. The partner agencies planned to redevelop the 25-acre CLT site to eliminate neglected and abandoned properties while providing on-site, rent-free temporary housing for Davistown residents during the redevelopment process. The temporary housing will allow residents to remain together as a community during the construction phase of the project. After redevelopment is complete, Davistown residents will be able to choose from a variety of housing options, including single-family homes, duplexes, four-plexes, townhomes, and apartments. This variety creates new affordability and will allow more Davistown residents to become homeowners.

The Davistown project is the first CLT ever created with FHWA Highway Trust Funds. Eighty percent of the project, including the acquisition of CLT land and the redevelopment of the neighborhood, will be funded with these FHWA funds.

Davistown sets an important precedent for highway mitigation in low-income neighborhoods. The project?s emphasis on community cohesion, housing sustainability, and preserving neighborhood character qualifies it as an FHWA Exemplary Human Environment Initiative.

For more information, contact David Whitworth,

Updated: 06/27/2017
Updated: 6/27/2017
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