Hillside Neighborhood Revitalization
The revitalization of the Hillside neighborhood has been DASH for LaGrange’s premier project. DASH began its efforts in 2003 by purchasing substandard properties owned by absentee landlords. The neighborhood, approximately 275 acres in size, consisted of 400 households; 330 single-family homes and 70 apartment units. With the City of LaGrange granting Redevelopment Authority status and working alongside us to improve infrastructure, DASH started rebuilding aging houses and selling them, often to first-time homeowners.
Through revitalization, DASH strives for environmental sustainability. The goal is to eliminate blight while utilizing the existing street and utility infrastructure and maximizing existing amenities such as sidewalks and mature trees. Sensitive to the historic craftsmen architecture of the neighborhood, DASH carefully considers the design and materials used for new construction and the rehabilitation of homes. Focused on sustainability, DASH uses building components and construction techniques to minimize future maintenance and reduce utility costs. All DASH homes comply with EnergyStar® standards and incorporate green building techniques. DASH completed its first EarthCraft Certified house in 2012.
Creating a vibrant commercial district is critical to the long-term success of Hillside’s revitalization. DASH works to retain and attract businesses that are complementary to residents needs and those that draw patrons from the larger community into the neighborhood. Existing business owners have been assisted with low-interest loans to make streetscape improvements enhance the appeal of the area. DASH has successfully renovated two commercial spaces that attract new businesses and people to the neighborhood: Doc Spier’s Gathering Place, an open air venue for community events, and Hillside Station an indoor venue for community activities. Development options are being explored for other DASH-owned property within the commercial district.
“Neighborhood revitalization” generally conjures up visions of physical improvements – bricks and mortar, landscaping. The sustainability of these improvements over time, however, is largely dependent on the people who live in the community and who are invested in its future. DASH works closely with residents to understand their needs and their vision for their community. Active community leadership is encouraged through involving residents in the development and implementation of programs, services and events that are important to them. After-school programs, summer day camps, teen mentoring, softball and soccer leagues, holiday events and social gatherings have been coordinated and largely staffed by neighborhood volunteers.
Since beginning work in 2003, DASH has:
- Rebuilt or constructed 81 single-family homes in Hillside
- Developed 154 quality, affordable rental units in Hillside
- Reduced crime in Hillside by 44 percent
- Increased the Hillside tax base by $6 million
- Invested more than $20 million in capital in Hillside
While it’s easy to place numeric and monetary values on DASH efforts, the intrinsic value created is more difficult to quantify, but immensely important:
- Long-time residents feel safe again in their neighborhood.
- Children are proud of the home they live in.
- Neighbors care for one another and take pride in their community.
- Vacant buildings have been renovated and businesses have moved in.
- Renovations and new construction have retained the neighborhood’s historic charm.
Click here to see more photos of our Hillside neighborhood. (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/67333123 null@null N06/sets/72157629422509657/)