Renaissance Kentucky Addresses Downtowns

Penny Young

A new approach in addressing the economic difficulties of Kentucky's downtowns is on the horizon. In September 1997, Governor Paul Patton announced the creation of the Renaissance Kentucky Program.

Many communities lost their downtown appeal when businesses moved outside of our cities decades ago to attract residents in outlying subdivisions. Now Kentuckians are recognizing and appreciating the aesthetic values and currently untapped potential of our rundown or abandoned downtowns. The Renaissance concept is designed to recapture the spirit of our local heritage, to recreate pride in our downtown centers, to promote tourism, to attract new businesses and jobs, to encourage cultural growth and to develop attractive housing convenient to successful businesses.

Before our cities can create successful redevelopment, they need assistance in locating funding sources and working through the maze of regulatory requirements. An alliance has been formed that consists of Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) as the lead agency, the Department for Local Government, the Kentucky Heritage Council and the Kentucky League of Cities to assist a Renaissance community with a redevelopment vision. To gain involvement at all possible levels of state government, Governor Patton will appoint a Renaissance representative from each cabinet to serve as an informational and/or financing resource to a Renaissance community.

State government resources will be identified and Renaissance communities will receive funding priority when appropriate. In addition to these priority funding resources, such as Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and the Intermodal Surface Transportation Enhancement Act (ISTEA), the state budget currently under review by the General Assembly includes matching grants for infrastructure and facade improvements. The Renaissance Alliance is also working on a state tax credit incentive program for rehabilitation of income-producing properties similar to the National Historic Tax Credit Program.

This opportunity for rebirth in Kentucky's downtowns will be an extraordinary collaboration that will be nurtured through all phases of progression. A mandate has been given to all branches of state government to work in unison to provide technical assistance and funding resources to a Renaissance community.

For additional information regarding Renaissance Kentucky, please contact Penny Young at (502) 564-7630, ext. 305.

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