HUD AWARDS $500,000 TO PRESERVE HISTORIC YMCA IN SELMA, ALABAMA Grant to help stimulate development in downtown business district
WASHINGTON – For generations, the historic YMCA building in Selma, Alabama was a central feature in the city’s social life and business district. Over the years, however, the historic structure fell into neglect and was in danger of collapse. Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded Selma a $500,000 grant to help the City and preservationists bring the structure back to useful life.
HUD’s HOPE VI Main Street Program seeks to rejuvenate older, downtown business districts while retaining the area’s traditional and historic character. Grant funding helps smaller communities in the development of affordable housing that is undertaken in connection with a Main Street revitalization effort. Obsolete commercial offices or buildings can be reconfigured into rent producing affordable housing.
“Today, we make an investment to help preserve the historic character of downtown Selma while expanding affordable housing and business opportunities,” said Ed Jennings, HUD’s Southeast Regional Administrator. “Our nation’s main streets are especially important to our smaller communities and I’m extremely proud we can work with Selma and local preservationists to breathe new life into the old YMCA building.”
Rep. Terri Sewell added, “I’m delighted that the City of Selma has received a $500,000 grant from HUD to revitalize its historic YMCA building. The YMCA building is the oldest YMCA building still standing in the state of Alabama and adds to the city’s rich cultural history. This grant will help ensure that the YMCA remains a valuable community asset to the 7th Congressional District.”
Built around 1887, Selma’s YMCA building is located at 217 Broad Street and was one of the first YMCAs in Alabama. After the YMCA outgrew that location, the building was used for commercial purposes until eventually it became vacant and neglected. A leaking roof led to the collapse of the interior floors, putting the exterior walls in danger of collapse. Due to the architectural and cultural significance of the building, Selma Dallas County Historic Preservation Society purchased the building and committed to save it. Structural engineers stabilized the building with a new roof and rebuilt floors in newly reinforced walls. The façade of the building was not changed.
Most of the street level will be retained primarily as future retail or office space. A one-bedroom unit for a person living with disabilities will occupy the remainder of the first floor. The second level will be developed into two two-bedroom units and three one-bedroom units, yielding a total of six newly constructed housing units. The building has a third level, but no plans have been made for it at this time.
The 10-block long Main Street area includes several buildings built in the 1800’s. The YMCA building that is designated as the Main Street project is three blocks from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, known for the “Bloody Sunday” attack on civil rights demonstrators, which was pivotal in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Visitors can trace the history of the National Voting Rights Movement in the recently restored 1870 Italianate Selma Interpretive Center for the Selma to Montgomery Historic Trail. The Interpretive Center is between the bridge and the YMCA building.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDgov, on facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.