Front door

Reporter: Drew Speier
New Media Producer: Amanda Lents

Evansville's Front Door Pride project is ready to start construction on some new homes.

It's all part of Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel's plan to revitalize downtown neighborhoods. New home construction will be done in two phases, starting next month with phase one. The second phase will begin early next year.

But the mayor sees this as only the beginning in areas of town that really need help. For years, this area in the center of town has been forgotten and has fallen on hard times.

Neighbor Bessie Forest says, "Oh it's bad, you know drugs and stuff like that."

Mayor Weinzapfel says his vision is about to change all that, "We hope to see a minimum of 40 homes, new homes constructed."

In a matter of days, the foundation of one of Weinzapfel's top priorities will be laid, with the construction of two new homes.

Mayor Weinzapfel says, "We would expect and hope that it doesn't stop there that this is simply just the beginning of rolling thunder and you see some tremendous progress and momentum built up and that we see a tremendous of this entire, of these neighborhoods."

Phase one begins on vacant lots on Madison Avenue. Both homes will be priced at just over $80,000. Phase two will add eight to ten more homes within a block of Madison Avenue in Goosetown.

Front Door Pride is partnering with our greater community of Evansville, which will build the homes.

Tom Coe with Our Greater Community says, "Homeowners lose hope. They lost a reason to invest in their own properties to keep them up. Property values continue to decline and unless somebody decides to do something about that and improve it, the cycle's going to continue to go downward."

The city is using a $1 million grant to provide subsidies of up to $25,000 toward the construction cost of each new home.

Neighbors like Paul Sheriff welcome the front door project with open arms, "Whatever help I can get from the city to revitalize these to make them habitats. Where they can live in them again then that would be a big help."

That help comes next month and for people like Forest, who has lived here for almost 30 years, it's something she can't wait to see.

Forest says, "It would mean a whole lot to me. Because it would be a different atmosphere and I'd have someone. I'd be able to visit and be able to talk to."

People interested in buying a new home in the front door pride area should contact Our Greater Community, which is partnering with another local non-profit organization, Hope of Evansville.