Fence Going Up Around Tubman Homes

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) – "Good riddance!..the sooner, the better!"
That’s the response of many neighbors around the old Harriett Tubman Public Housing complex as the city takes the first steps to tear it down.
On Tuesday, workers will start building a six foot fence around the property.

For years this was one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chattanooga.
It would be difficult to count the homicides over the years here on Roanoke Avenue.
And it would be even harder to count the toll its taken on residents who live nearby.

NEIGHBOR "That brings more mischief and stuff to the area, and we’ve got to live here. So tear it down, if you say you’re going to tear it down and do something positive to the neighborhood…so tear it down."

The housing units closed last year and, after a couple of false starts, the mayor’s office finally cut a deal with the Chattanooga Housing Authority to buy the site for 2.6 million dollars.

MAYOR ANDY BERKE, CHATTANOOGA, MARCH 11, 2014 "When we really think about what’s going to drive this neighborhood forward, and make a difference for our city as a whole..its bringing jobs to this area."

JUANITA WILLIAMS, NEIGHBOR "My husband, it’ll give him an easier way to get to and from work ..he can get a job over there ..instead of way up the mountain."

And that’s what the city wants here eventually, a site for industrial development, especially for those who live nearby.
But for now vagrants and vandals are busy breaking into and tearing-up the apartments since they were boarded-up.

JUANITA WILLIAMS, NEIGHBOR "I can’t even describe it. Up until they shut these things down ..crime was to the point to where ..every time you turn around, there was a shooting."

Some residents are reluctant to talk publicly about the problems.

NEIGHBOR "I think the property value will go up over here a lot, I think it’ll help raise morale in the neighborhood.

The big change begins Tuesday.

Tubman covers 36 acres and there’s access to Amnicola and a rail-line.
City leaders say that’s a boost for trying to lure an industrial plant here.
Demolition is scheduled to begin this summer.

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