For years, city officials and the Mobile Housing Board of Commissioners discussed the potential of demolishing the long-abandoned Josephine Allen Homes in the Plateau community, and on Tuesday, Jan. 14, the proposed action was given a definite timeline.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson joined members of the Mobile City Council and the Housing Board to announce that roughly half of the 292 dilapidated units at the complex would be coming down by March 1 in what will be a first in a two-phase process.
The remaining units contained within 36 buildings associated with the former public housing complex are slated to be razed by June 1, Stimpson said in a press conference.
“Today is a very happy day simply because what has been a blighted area of our city will be razed and torn down,” Stimpson said.
The demolition of the first phase will cost around $475,000 and be conducted by two different contractors, Stimpson said. The work will be split into 12 different contracts, with Hughes Plumbing taking on nine and Triple A taking on three. Bids will be taken on phase two in April.
“It’ll be taken to the ground level, leveled and seeded to help grow grass,” Stimpson said. “The future of the site is up to the Mobile Housing Board.”
Stimpson credited a 2018 agreement between the city and MHB with moving the demolition discussion further along.
Council President Levon Manzie said the vast majority, or about “90 percent” of the questions he receives when conducting community meetings in the Happy Hills area is related to the abandoned housing complex.
“I’m as pleased to be here today as I can be,” Manzie said. “It certainly is a happy day in Happy Hills.”
The councilman, who is in his second term representing citizens in the area, thanked city staff and MHB for bringing the demolition to fruition.
“No citizen in our community should’ve had to live with this day in and day out,” he said. “I’m proud we’re finally able to, working together, do something about it.”
No decisions have been made as to the future of the property, MHB Executive Director Michael Pierce said.
This announcement comes only weeks after MHB commissioners voted to apply through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to tear down several housing projects on the city’s south side as well.
If approved by the federal agency, residents of R.V. Taylor Homes, Thomas James Place and Boykin Tower would all have to be relocated, either through the Housing Choice Voucher program, better known as Section 8, or to one of the city’s remaining public housing units.
Due to concerns over the availability of affordable housing in the city, the council has set up a commission to study the issue. Councilors will appoint residents to the commission, which will report its findings back to elected officials. Both Pierce and Community Development Director James Roberts will sit on the commission as non-voting members.
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