Owensboro leaders focusing on making downtown more livable

Owensboro leaders focusing on making downtown more livable

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - A big goal for city leaders is to increase market-rate housing downtown.

Mayor Tom Watson says they have tackled their first downtown goals: recreation and retail. He says now they are switching gears.

“I think the playing and the working we’ve met those goals somewhat," said co-owner of A+ Leadership David Johnson. "But the living downtown has lagged behind.”

City commissioners voted to bring on A+ Leadership consulting firm to get the job done. Johnson and Fred Reeves will be leading the project, working to find market-rate housing for members of the community.

“I think eight or nine years we knew it would, it would be the toughest piece," said Johnson. "And I think that’s why the city engaged us to come back and try to shore up that piece.”

Johnson says there’s a great selection of higher-end housing options downtown, but the opposite is missing.

“We do not have things in the $700 to $1,200 range that people are really looking for," said Johnson.

A+ is only three weeks into their project.

“A lot of it is gathering information, doing property inventories, meeting with developers, meeting with city staff, meeting with some of the stakeholders,” said Johnson.

Johnson says they are already looking into helping the city purchase existing properties to repurpose.

“Just make it affordable so people don’t feel like they’re in a bind, get them off the streets,” said Owensboro resident Jessica Hamon.

Mayor Watson says city officials will be meeting with the firm throughout the next year to get reports on progress.

A+ Consulting has a year to get together a strong plan for downtown livability before they turn that plan over to the city for officials to implement.

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