Partnership heralds rebirth of Gary neighborhood
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent May 22, 2014 8:18PM
A group watches as the first ceremonial shovels are turned for the new Gary development. | Michelle L. Quinn~for Sun-Times Media
Gary, Hammond, EC snare Blight Elimination funds
While Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson was digging a shovel into the ground Thursday morning, her office received word that the city would be receiving $6.6 million as part of the state’s Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program.
Accoding to a news release from the Mayor’s Office, Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann announced that five Indiana cities including Gary, East Chicago and Hammond would receive a combined award of more than $15 million to help eliminate blighted and abandoned homes.
“I could not contain my excitement,” Freeman-Wilson said in the release. “We had a team of people who worked extremely hard on this application and their diligence and tenacity has now paid off in large dividends for our city.”
Other cities receiving funds are Lawrence and Indianapolis.
Updated: June 24, 2014 7:53AM
GARY — The neighborhood around the Jackson family’s first house will, come August, receive a makeover, including two new houses courtesy of a public-private partnership.
The Fuller Center for Housing of Gary has teamed up with several local partners to build the houses in the 2400 block of Jackson Street, it was announced during a groundbreaking ceremony at the site Thursday. Additionally, two existing houses will receive repairs.
Several ideas for the area over the years — an amusement park being one — were all grand but would never come to pass for monetary reasons, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said. And they weren’t conducive to a long-term, sustainable neighborhood.
The city then met with David Snell, president for the Americus, Georgia-based Fuller Center of Housing, and the housing-rehab idea clearly stood out, she said.
“What better way to honor the legacy of Michael Jackson and his mother, Catherine, as she works to maintain the properties at 2300 and 2308 Jackson Street,” Freeman-Wilson said. “People come here every day to see where they lived.
“We’re not just transforming two blocks, but a historic community in the city.”
The project, which will start in July, has received $100,000 in donations from NIPSCO and the Indiana Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections is also providing labor teams to the project free of charge, said Jerry Vance, the department’s executive director of programming.
The Gary SouthShore RailCats, Majestic Star Casinos and Centier Bank will also provide donations, and Menards will provide in-kind services, said the Rev. Chet Johnson Sr., president of the Fuller Center of Gary’s board of directors.