New homes replace blighted apartment complex in Hickory Hill

Nine families received the keys to their new homes this past weekend in the new $40 million Eden Square mixed-use community in the Hickory Hill area.
“The beautiful thing about Eden Square is that it’s kind of like a phoenix that rises from the ashes because it used to Marina Cove apartments, which was an eyesore for the Hickory Hill community for a long time,” said Dr. Stacy Spencer, New Direction Christian Church senior pastor and president of the Power Center Community Development Corp.
Gestalt Power Center Academy Middle School and Performing Arts Center were the first buildings to be completed inside Eden Square last year as part of Phase I construction.
More homes will be completed in the Habitat for Humanity-sponsored 43-acre community over the next two years. 
“So we partnered with the City of Memphis to knock down that development and put up in its place Eden Square to bring hope, vitality and sustainability back to the area.”

Project sponsors and partners celebrated Feb. 25 with a dedication event in the new neighborhood.
Phameshia Calico plants shrubs and flowers at her new home in Eden Square.Project partners and sponsors include the PCCDC, New Direction Christian Church, Habitat for Humanity, the City of Memphis division of Housing and Community Development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati and Bank of Bartlett.
“This is just the beginning. We hope to build about 50 more homes by the end of 2018,” said Spencer.
The first-time homebuyers had to meet Habitat for Humanity’s criteria of a demonstrated need, the ability to repay the zero-interest mortgage and the willingness to partner.
The selected homebuyers attend a multi-week homebuyer education course, complete 350 to 400 hours of “sweat equity” by working on their homes and the homes of others and volunteering at the Habitat ReStore as well as contribute a $1,000 down payment and save $1,000 in an emergency fund.
After the new homeowners purchase their homes, they make monthly payments to Habitat that go into a revolving Fund for Humanity used to support Habitat’s ongoing mission.
To date, Memphis Habitat has helped nearly 500 first-time homebuyers secure affordable mortgages and completed rehabilitation and home modification projects in partnership with more than 330 local homeowners.
“The next projects over the next three years will include a rugby field and an independent living facility for senior citizens,” said Spencer.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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