In 1938, the Memphis Housing Authority opened a public housing facility named Dixie Homes. Because so many renowned African Americans lived there, the area came to be known as Legends Park. These residents included Shelby County Commissioner J.W. Gibson, musician Alfred Rudd, and the Washington Posts first African-American editor, Dorothy Butler Gilliam. Over the years, the area deteriorated. Beset with crime problems, it was no longer the vibrant community it had been in its heyday.
In 2007, Dixie Homes was torn down. In its place stands Legends Park, a Hope VI development that has totally changed the fortunes of the community. Legends Park came together through a coordinated effort between McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc.; Urban Design Associates; Community Capital; and the City of Memphis. HOPE participated in a $2,600,000 loan with Enterprise Bank and Trust. HOPE viewed the Legends Park project as an opportunity to revitalize the area and provide quality affordable housing in the heart of the city.
Located minutes from downtown Memphis, the new Legends Park consists of garden-style and townhouse apartments (158 total units) and a 45,000-square-foot mixed-use building with commercial and residential space. One of the most visible tenants is Le Bonheur Outpatient Rehab Clinic. A unique aspect of Legends Park is that it is a mixed-income community where people from diverse backgrounds and income levels live side-by-side in similar accommodations. Rent levels vary based on income.
Described as a total community transformation, Legends Park has breathed new life into the area. It is a 100% change, a 100% improvement, said resident Jimmy Bates. We have a great location, great neighbors and a great environment. My wife and I love it here. Legends resident Toni Parsons added, This development has really improved the neighborhood. Its so quiet and peaceful.
This storied community has gone through many changes since the legends for whom it was originally named lived here. If they could see their old neighborhood as it stands today, surely they would be smiling.