MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A new collaboration between Tuskegee University and the City of Montgomery is about to get underway.
An announcement was made Tuesday regarding plans to build an off-campus learning center in Montgomery called the Tuskegee University Urban Agriculture Innovation Center.
The outdoor classroom will be built at the site of the old Carlton McLendon Furniture factory on Grady Street, near the intersection of Mobile Street and the 5-points area of downtown Montgomery. It’s part of the TU College of Agriculture’s signature Urban Outreach and Extension program.
“Good partners, like Tuskegee University, play a vital role in realizing our vision for a new Montgomery,” Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said. “Our goal is to invest in and revitalize all of Montgomery, not just certain parts, and enhance quality of life across our city through creativity and collaboration."
The idea for this new project is for it to evolve into a place for innovation, entrepreneurship, and education for Urban Food Systems. It also plans to work in this area to help with food security and community development as it partners with other organizations and residents to create a synergy with agriculture and art, design and faith.
"It’s just the start of our work to reduce food deserts and food insecurity in underserved areas of our community by increasing access to healthy foods and fresh fruits and vegetables,” Reed said.
The City of Montgomery says community advocates and city development officials see the project as the cornerstone to the city’s long-term revitalization plans for the Peacock Tract and Mobile Street area, which will also include new affordable housing, streetscape enhancements and public art guided by 21 Dreams Arts and Culture.
For those like Desmond Wilson, who grew up to become the city’s director of Economic and Community Development, the project is especially fitting. He grew up at 574 Grady Street and remembers watching the Selma-to-Montgomery marches come right past his front porch.
Before many of the historic neighborhood’s homes and businesses were demolished to make way for the interstate, Wilson recalled its vibrancy and resilience. Now, he sees work with partners including Tuskegee University as a way to revitalize the area with new growth and development.