In Lawndale, at the site of the Chicago apartment where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived with his family in 1966, work has begun on the Dr. King Legacy Apartments, a $17-million complex that, when finished, will have 45 units of affordable rental housing, retail space, and a mini-museum dedicated to the efforts of King and others to provide equal access to housing in Chicago.
Last April, on the anniversary of King’s 1968 assassination, a coalition of activist and civic groups announced plans to create the MLK Historic District on four acres along 16th Street between Hamlin and Harding streets. The first block of the $50-million project includes the site of King’s apartment—irrevocably damaged in the riots that followed his assassination—at 1550 South Hamlin Avenue. Eventually, the district is to include a park, a memorial to King, a new branch of the Chicago Public Library, and other amenities.
On December 31st, the coalition, led by Lawndale Christian Development Corp., secured the $17 million in financing needed to start work on the Legacy Apartments (that includes $5 million in federal stimulus funds). Groundbreaking followed shortly thereafter. “We’re in the ground, we’re making it happen at last,” says Kim Jackson, the executive director of Lawndale Christian Development. The slide show below looks at the site—its history and the plans for its future—as well as at a nearby home that is also associated with King.