GARY | In the five years since Michael Jackson’s death, his childhood home at 2300 Jackson St. has become a magnet, drawing family members and fans to honor his beginnings and his legacy.
Soon, homes for other families will become part of the King of Pop’s legacy in that same neighborhood, thanks to the Christian-based Fuller Center for Housing of Gary, the efforts of volunteers and public and private partnerships.
A five-day blitz-build of at least one new home and renovation of up to three existing homes in the 2300 and 2400 blocks of Jackson Street begins with a 7:30 a.m. prayer service on Aug. 25. Work concludes on Aug. 29, which would have been Michael Jackson’s 56th birthday, with a 3 p.m. dedication ceremony scheduled for that day.
“We have to finalize the building site in the 2300 block of Jackson. There may be a second construction in the 2400 block of Jackson,” said the Rev. Chet Johnson Sr. of New Tabernacle Baptist Church and president of the Fuller Center for Housing board.
Each of the three-bedroom homes provides affordable housing for those who are unable to secure traditional mortgages, Johnson said.
Currently, plans call for four single-story homes, although “there may be a two-story home,” he said.
Families will be able to buy the homes for about $50,000 with a zero-interest mortgage that is held by the Fuller Center for Housing of Gary, Johnson said.
Preparations for The Jackson Street of Dreams project begins Thursday when about 30 bicyclists from the Georgia-based nonprofit Fuller Center for Housing stop on their coast-to-coast fundraising journey to help clear overgrown vegetation at one of the home sites.
“Their journey started in New Jersey and ends in Oregon,” said Phyllis Barlow, a member of Gary’s Fuller Center for Housing board.
“We have traveling and local volunteers, and we are definitely working fast and furious looking for more volunteers,” Barlow said.
On July 5, demolition of one house will begin in the 2300 block of Jackson, Johnson said.
“Crews will also be gutting a couple of homes in the 2400 block of Jackson, so they can be completely renovated,” he said.
“There will be some pre-building in July when the infrastructure, utilities and foundation will be installed,” Johnson said. “All the contractors have not been finalized, but they will be installing the mechanicals, the heating and air conditioning.”
That will allow volunteers to begin constructing a new home on Aug. 25.
The cooperative effort to build The Jackson Street of Dreams involves local, county and state government entities as well as corporate and nonprofit donors.
NIPSCO contributed $50,000 to the project as did the Indiana Department of Correction. All the Department of Correction funds have been raised and donated by inmates and staff throughout the Department of Correction system.
Inmates from Westville Correctional Facility also will provide labor for the project.
Majestic Star Casino and the Gary RailCats are partnering for two fundraising efforts, and Centier Bank pledged financial support.
Local laborers, small hardware stores and Menards also have pledged their support.