Neighbors concerned about former Mercy Academy detox plan - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Neighbors concerned about former Mercy Academy detox plan

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Neighbors had concerns about safety and whether the 105-bed site would actually remain as the developer promised. Neighbors had concerns about safety and whether the 105-bed site would actually remain as the developer promised.
Charles Cecil Charles Cecil
Cliff Boyle Cliff Boyle

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Old Highlands neighbors gave an earful Thursday to the developer looking to turn a former Louisville religious school into a rehabilitation center.

Neighbors had concerns about safety and whether the 105-bed site would actually remain as the developer promised.

"The more you bring in people that are on drugs or alcohol, that's what causes your property value to go down," said Charles Cecil, who lives nearby.

The site, 1176 East Broadway, has sat vacant since Mercy Academy moved out in 2007. Neighbors successfully blocked the Wayside homeless shelter from moving in the next year, and the area's Metro Council representative described what remains as an "eyesore."

Cliff Boyle, owner of Massachusetts-based Simsbury Associates, said his company would invest $8 million and create 140 jobs at the detoxification and rehab center. Boyle said his firm already owns three detox facilities in Florida, plus other properties around the country.

People staying at the 105-bed facility would not have contact with people in the neighborhood, he said.

"It's not good to have a lot of interaction, it's not good for their rehabilitation because it brings in temptation," Boyle said. "So, we design the building and the operation so that doesn't happen."

Boyle said the facility would have an annual payroll of $5.5 million.

The site would be first-of-its-kind in Louisville because clients will pay for their stays, instead of relying on government assistance, he said.

"(Clients) will all be people of means who invest in their own future and recovery," he said.

Stays at the 28-day residential program will cost at least $18,000, while a trip to the six-day detox center will cost at least $3,500, developers said.

The plan is generating a small fraction of the controversy that the homeless proposal did, said Jackie Leslie, president of the Old Highlands Neighborhood Association.

About 40 neighbors came to the meeting with Boyle and his development team, out of 1,000 households contacted about the event, Leslie said.

Representatives for Our Lady of Mercy, who now operate a larger school, said they regularly have to visit the site for issues with vagrants.

Metro Council won't vote on the conditional use permit, said Tom Owen, the area's councilman. Instead, it'll be up to a committee of the planning department.

Boyle said he would like to be operating within 15 months.

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