‘I’m proud to be from Orange Mound:’ City leaders push for neighborhood renaissance

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There’s good news for those living in Orange Mound, as local leaders push to restore the first African-American neighborhood built by African-Americans.

Many residents say they’re excited to see their community being brought back to life.

Franklin Gill says he’s lived in Orange Mound with his family for 30 years, but over the years he’s seen the community lose it sparkle. He says abandoned houses and an uptick in crime has taken over the community he loves so dearly.

“Once upon a time, our house was worth about $30,000 but now since the crime rate increased, the property value has went down $16,000,” Gill said.

That’s why on the 130th anniversary of the neighborhood, local leaders say they are working to restore Orange Mound.

“This is long overdue,” state Rep. G.A. Hardaway said. “The historic Orange Mound, Tennessee community has been under duress for decades.”

About two weeks ago, Shelby County Assessor Melvin Burgess announced property values in the historic community declined by 30% within a 10-year period.

Now, he is partnering with other local leaders to come up with a plan to improve the landscape and increase home ownership

“Our goal is Orange Mound renaissance 2020,” he said.

People in the community say, despite the crime or negativity surrounding the name Orange Mound and the families that live within, one thing will always remain the same:

“I’m very proud to be from Orange Mound,” Brittany Gill said. “It’s not like how everybody makes it seem to be. Everybody’s really like a big family. Like, on this street we’re all a big family. We all come together and try to do stuff for the kids. I’m proud to be from Orange Mound.”

 

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