As bulldozers and wrecking balls continue to reduce the foreboding buildings of Hurt Village to a bad memory, there is markedly different work going on just a few blocks over at Lauderdale Courts.
Although both projects are part of the $160 million Uptown redevelopment project, construction crews and developers at Lauderdale Courts are making an effort to maintain the integrity of one of the first public housing projects in Memphis, despite the fact that most of the 340 renovated apartments, renamed Uptown Square, will be rented to the public at market rates.
Completed in 1938 through the federal Works Progress Administration, MHA tried to demolish Lauderdale Courts in the mid-1990s. Its efforts created an outcry among Elvis Presley fans who still paid homage to the King by visiting the apartment, where a teen-age Presley once lived with his parents.
Political pressure exerted by the fans and the efforts of local architectural historian and preservation consultant Judith Johnson, who says she wasn't motivated by the Elvis connection, succeeded in getting Lauderdale Courts on the National Historic Register in 1996.
Uptown Square will be completed in three phases, with the first scheduled to come on line in the fall of 2003.
So what happens to Elvis' old apartment? That hasn't been determined yet, Bojko says, but they are working with Elvis Presley Enterprises. "We're working to determine the best use for it, so it respects the history and works well with the community," Bojko, vice president of development for the Henry Turley Co., says.