Marks Village

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View of Marks Village from Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve.

Charles P. Marks Village is a public housing project operated by the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) located on the 45-acre former site of the Alabama Rolling Mills in the Gate City neighborhood of the East Lake community. The 500-unit project, addressed at 7527 66th Street South, was named in memory of real estate executive and former HABD board chair Charles Pollard Marks. It is currently managed by Windham Summerville. Cassidy Moore is president of the Marks Village Residents' Council.

The project was constructed in 19511952 under the auspices of the United States Housing Act of 1949. Marks Village was built for white families while the concurrent Loveman Village in Titusville was developed for African Americans. A ground-breaking ceremony was held for the $5 million project on January 30, 1950 with first HABD chair Frank Spain, architects Charles McCauley and Charles Snook, and contractor G. A. Paul present. The project was comprised of 50 one-bedroom, 200 two-bedroom, 200 three-bedroom, 40 four-bedroom and 10 five-bedroom apartments, with initial rents ranging from $9.50 to $34.50 per month, with utilities included. It opened in May 1952.

Early on December 17, 2013 a gas explosion destroyed one of the buildings in the complex, with one fatality and 11 others injured. Alagasco replaced many service pipes in the vicinity following the blast. In June 2014 the HABD board approved a $23,000 contract with Aho Architects to design a replacement for the two damaged apartments. Steel City Services was hired to manage the reconstruction project.

Marks Village's community garden was first created around 2006. In 2016 it was restored and replanted with volunteers from the community and the Nature Conservancy of Alabama.

In March 2017 HABD director Marcus Lundy announced plans to close off all but a few of the street entrances into the complex as part of a multi-part plan to reduce violent crime. Other new policies include maintaining a list of approved visitors and adding a public safety director to coordinate with neighborhood residents serving as a community watch. A map of the proposal also included references to a new community center and gymnasium and demolition of the apartment units on either side of Joppa Avenue, to be replaced with single-family cottages.

With the support of the Gate City Neighborhood Association and resident leaders, the proposal was presented to the Birmingham City Council in December of that year.


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