Monday, August 27, 2007

Phoenix Park

This appears to be a story of a good turn around, from suburban blight to a neighborhood improving steadily.

Hope on the rise in Phoenix Park
Crime falls as a once-notorious neighborhood is reborn
By Lisa Heyamoto - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Monday, August 27, 2007

A few years ago, Franklin Villa was the kind of place where thieves broke into homes and stole Christmas presents meant for children. Drug deals were frequent and brazen.

Makeshift memorials popped up in back alleys and front lawns, their dried flowers and puddled candles a testament to the kind of life folks could expect in the south Sacramento neighborhood.

"It was real bad," said longtime resident Michael Sims. "Gangs, killings, shootings -- everything you could think about was here. Families were scared to walk the streets."

It almost seemed like Franklin Villa was a lost cause.

But in an ambitious effort to turn the neighborhood around, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency took over the neighborhood between Morrison Creek and Franklin Boulevard. Using the power of eminent domain, the agency bought out the patchwork of absentee landlords who had allowed the low-income area to fall into disrepair.

The agency, which serves as the redevelopment arm of the city and county, began a large-scale renovation of the neighborhood's tattered homes. It added amenities such as pools and playgrounds, amped up security and -- by re-christening the area Phoenix Park -- sent the message that Franklin Villa was a thing of the past.

Crime went down, and spirits rose. And now that the $84 million redevelopment is complete, the formerly blighted neighborhood has transformed into something that would have seemed unimaginable just six years ago -- a community.