portlandhouseGill Holland, who spurred the initial turnaround of the East Market neighborhood NuLu and has set his sights on doing something similar in Portland, announced today his organization will partner with New Directions Housing Corporation to continue developing low-cost housing for artists and makers in the west Louisville neighborhood.

New Directions will manage Artist Row Portland, a $2 million initiative aimed at attracting a creative class to the northwestern neighborhood. The not-for-profit development corporation, which has more than 1,000 residential units currently under management, will help select, renovate, and arrange rental agreements for the houses, many of which are shotguns.

In an interview Wednesday, Holland said his organization, the Portland Investment Initiative, has raised about a third of the total for the housing initiative. It coincides with the group’s continued efforts to establish an arts community between 15th and 26th streets, north of Main Street. The group has bought and is continuing to redevelop more than 30 properties, including single-family homes, warehouses, and other buildings.

Through Artist Row Portland, Holland’s group has purchased and renovated five homes, with three more under construction. He said there are more than 55 artists and makers either living in the district or maintaining studio space there.

Holland said bringing on New Directions is a signal that the effort is growing.

“It means we’re getting to the point where we can’t do it all,” he said. “We need some help, and they’re amazing.”

New Directions already has a strong presence in Portland. Recently, it partnered with Metro government and Habitat for Humanity for the Portland Pride initiative, a three-year, $1.75 million effort to rehabilitate the exteriors of 80 houses.

“New Directions has been a Portland stakeholder for 40 years,” New Directions CEO Joe Gliessner said in a release. “We are pleased to support Gill’s vision of a revitalized Portland that will provide housing opportunities for Portlanders and for people who want to come to this emerging and exciting neighborhood.”

Gliessner cited new small-business growth in Louisville and Southern Indiana, as well as a renewing interest in historic housing and the development of the West Louisville FoodPort as signs that Portland — where the median household income is $22,894, less than half of the city at large — is rebounding.

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Stephen George
Stephen George is news editor of Insider Louisville. He is a former editor of LEO Weekly and the Nashville City Paper, and a former news editor of the Nashville Scene. He has written for various other news and culture publications and is happy to be back in Louisville.