Spotlight on Community: Helm Place
Located in Jackson, Miss.
Builder | Century Construction, LLC
Developer | Mid-South Housing Foundation
Land Planner | Civil South Group
The Farish Street Neighborhood grew out of the Reconstruction Era as a place for newly freed African Americans to carve out a community that they could call their own. By mid-century, the area was the business and cultural hub for the African American community, both in Jackson and statewide. By the mid-1990s however, houses had become homes to vagrancy with many of them falling victim to fires, initially lit for warmth.
Mid-South Housing Foundation and its partners built a development in this context that they hope will become a groundswell of positive momentum. They understand that neighborhoods like this can only be brought back from the brink by the people that live there – they say “bring them there, and they will build it”. With the completion of the first phase of the development, there is a tremendous buzz about the area again. Now that the Helm Place development is occupied with such success, conversations are being had once again about further revitalization. Other developments like Helm Place are being planned in the area and business organizations are formulating plans to redevelop the Farish Street core. Now that the residents are returning to live and work in the area, there is hope that it might be built back from within.
The development is comprised of 88 townhomes and a 4,000 square foot community center. The community is spread across 5 blocks, interspersed among existing homes that have survived in the hope that the new homes can bolster the existing community. The homes were designed to fit with the historical character of the neighborhood. Brick was kept low to mimic the historical brick foundation walls on the houses in the area, with simple lap siding above. Living rooms and bedrooms open onto large two-story porches with wood columns facing out to the streets to encourage a sense of community. The homes have nine-foot ceilings, tile floors, and 2-car garages. The community center has meeting rooms, a conference hall, and a business center for the residents, with a playground for the greater community. The community room plays host to a myriad of services and seminars geared towards helping the residents achieve and maintain a high quality of life.
This project won the 2017 BALA Gold award for Affordable Home, Detached or Attached.