Home ♃ Recent Stories ☄ HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge to visit Birmingham on Wed. for Major Announcement,...

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge to visit Birmingham on Wed. for Major Announcement, Some Expect

The Smithfield library would be relocated under a rezoning plan approved by the city to help secure a $50 million HUD grant. (FILE)

By Barnett Wright

The Birmingham Times

Marcia L. Fudge, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary will visit Birmingham’s Smithfield neighborhood Wednesday, to talk about community investments and initiatives in the city and across the country.

Fudge, Rep. Terri Sewell and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin will meet with residents at Smithfield Court as well the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) and visit public housing property and surrounding Smithfield, College Hill, and Graymont neighborhoods.

Earlier this year, the city applied for a $50 million federal grant to revitalize the Smithfield community. The city has been announced as a finalist for the grant.

“I look forward to welcoming Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge to the City of Birmingham this Wednesday and to participate in the major announcement and tour,” said Sewell. “I have been working with the City of Birmingham to address the housing needs in the Smithfield, College Hills, and Graymont neighborhoods. If awarded, this funding would be the catalyst for transformational change in the City of Birmingham.”

The Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant from HUD is intended to help replace distressed public housing and improve its surrounding neighborhoods. The competitive grant is given to a handful of communities across the country each year.

Last month, the city rezoned eight sites across the Graymont, Smithfield and College Hills neighborhoods to enable the creation of about 900 units of housing as part of larger mixed-use development to help secure the grant.

The rezoning encompasses sites such as surplus property on the site of A.H. Parker High School and the former Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity headquarters and relocating the community’s library.

The city’s plan for the grant is to construct up to 1,000 new housing units alongside new commercial and community spaces. The former JCCEO headquarters, for example, would be converted into approximately 100 senior housing units, while the former Hill Elementary School site would be redeveloped into approximately 75 multi-family residential units.

The Smithfield Court Housing Community, meanwhile, would be redeveloped into 400 multi-family residential units, with ground-floor commercial spaces as well as open areas and recreational amenities.

“I am looking forward to visiting Birmingham to support the city’s efforts to transform neighborhoods and make Birmingham a great place to live,” said Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “At HUD, we are excited to actively support communities in their efforts to create impactful changes.”

Smithfield, one of Birmingham’s historic communities, was once known as “Dynamite Hill, because of multiple bombings conducted by the Ku Klux Klan to try to scare off Black families who were working to integrate the neighborhood. It was also home to some of Birmingham’s most iconic figures like Civil Rights lawyer Arthur Shores; entrepreneur A.G. Gaston; political activist Angela Davis and Alabama Supreme Court Justice Oscar Adams Jr.

Birmingham City Councilor Carol Clarke said the Choice Neighborhoods grant allows the city to “achieve catalytic development in a weak market around many of our public housing sites.”