Saturday, May 12, 2012

Florida History: Fort Lauderdale New Deal housing project goes modern

By Jane Feehan

Doctor Kennedy Homes, a public housing project along Broward Boulevard, was a local New Deal initiative completed in 1941.

Constructed in the segregation era, the 45-building project was designated for whites but later housed primarily African-Americans. It was named in honor of Dr. Thomas Simpson Kennedy (1859-1939)*, a Fort Lauderdale pioneer and physician who provided critical assistance to residents during a yellow fever epidemic in 1899.  Its counterpart, Dixie Court Complex, for African-Americans was built in 1940.

Big changes are underway to modernize the historical community.

Doctor Kennedy Homes was razed in July 2011 to make way for redevelopment by Miami-based Carlisle Development Group.  Three of the original buildings on the 8.5-acre community remain to preserve its history.  The $28 million complex, financed by and administered through the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale, will feature eight multi-story buildings, a gym, library, computer room and high-speed Intranet access.  There will be 132 units as it was configured in 1941.

Residents who were displaced by redevelopment were moved to nearby Dixie Court and Northwest Gardens.

“They have the opportunity to move back but I expect only a modest number to do so,” said Tam English, executive director of the authority.  The inconvenience of moving again would be the primary deterrent he explained.

English said Doctor Kennedy Homes is slated to open its doors during the fall of 2012. With a number of award-winning housing projects, Fort Lauderdale's housing authority could serve as a model to cities along the U.S. Gulf Coast struggling to house its poor after Hurricane Katrina.

* For more on Dr. Kennedy, see:

Feeding the homeless:

Use search box at top right to find more Fort Lauderdale history.

Tags: Fort Lauderdale public housing projects, Fort Lauderdale history, Fort Lauderdale segregation history, Doctor Kennedy Homes, Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale during the 1940s, New Deal in Fort Lauderdale, film researcher

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