|Thousands of people have called it home.
In the early 1940s the Foote Homes public residential community opened at Danny Thomas Boulevard and Mississippi Boulevard, providing 980 apartments for low income Memphians. It was downsized to 420 units in the 1990s. More commonly called a "housing project," it was designated for African American families. It is the last of its kind in Memphis — large public housing complexes. There were six in Memphis at one time. All but Foote Homes have been demolished. Demolition of Foote Homes is now underway.
In its place will be more mixed income housing. The transformation was made possible by a $30-million Federal Housing Administration "Choice Neighborhood" grant, matching local government dollars and private investment. It is part of what is being called "South City." Memphis Directory of Housing and Community Development Paul Young says one of the lessons learned from the replacement of the other five large public housing complexes is that the overall development of the neighborhood has been slow because the focus was only on the property that held the housing projects. With South City, the focus is much broader, totaling nearly $300-million in investment. Among the hoped for neighborhood assets is a full service grocery, which downtown residents say is much needed. Also on the drawing boards is improved park & open space, community facilities, library, neighborhood retail and comprehensive supportive services and programs.
Just across South Lauderdale Street used to stand a similar housing project, Cleaborn Homes, but that has already been demolished and replacement structures are well under way.
Artist rendering of some of the proposed South City structures: