THE RESIDENTS OF MEMPHIS, Tenn.'s struggling South End have much to cherish about their neighborhood, including LeMoyne-Owens College, a historic black institution founded in 1862. But there were cheers all around when LeMoyne Gardens, an impersonal and dilapidated barracks-style public housing project, came down.
In its place is The College Park Neighborhood, a subsidized community of 411 rental and for-sale units right across the street from LeMoyne-Owens. College Park, where units range in size from one to four bedrooms, was developed through a public/private partnership and funded, in part, with federal Hope VI grants. The 40 for-sale units went for between $50,000 and $75,000. The remaining 371 apartments were rented to low-income families and singles, including former residents of the public housing complex.
Among the challenges for Torti Gallas and Partners, the firm serving as both architect and land planner, was designing a cost-effective housing model that low-income renters could afford and homeowners would buy. Architect Lawrence Antoine Jr. came up with a design that gave College Park the character of a single-family neighborhood even though it is a community of small apartment buildings.
Antoine employed a variety of local single-family housing styles, including a Craftsman-style bungalow, a side-porch house, and a double side-porch house. In the latter, he cleverly tucked four two-bedroom units. The mix includes singles and duplexes with three and four bedrooms and stacked flats and quads with one and two bedrooms.
“The porches and yards gave families a place for kids to play and a way of distinguishing their home from their neighbor's,” says Antoine. “That was very important to the residents.”
A mix of color palettes for the exteriors reinforces the feeling of a neighborhood that has evolved over time. The result is a community that Antoine describes as having a “rich streetscape that belongs to the best traditional neighborhoods in Memphis.”
CATEGORY: Community with mixed housing types; ENTRANT/ARCHITECT/LAND PLANNER: Torti Gallas and Partners, Silver Spring, Md.; BUILDER: Beazer Metro, Charlotte, N.C.; DEVELOPER: LeMoyne Redevelopment/Mid City Urban, Silver Spring; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: The Pickering Firm, Memphis, Tenn.