Out with Ebony Gardens, in With Goodbread Hills

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Ruthie Netterville used to call Ebony Gardens home up until the building was demolished last year. She moved to the public housing complex in September 1985 and remembers a very different community.

She said, "When I first moved here, it was like wild. But I still kept up the good things. I'd take the kids to church."

Tallahassee police say the area was plagued for years with crack-cocaine, drugs and crime. Ruthie still fought for a positive change.

"It was hardly the people living here; it was the people that were coming into here."

CAPT Lewis Johnson with the Tallahassee Police Department remembers patrolling the area.

He said, "We spent quite a lot of time out here trying to combat crime associated with drug use, which was batteries and what have you, the assaults, the fights, so it was a very chaotic time some 19 years ago."

But the times are changing. Ebony Gardens, once known as the 4th Avenue Projects, then 1010 Macomb, is gone, and in its place a neighborhood of nearly 100 luxury rental town homes and apartments, each designed with families in mind, complete with front porches, a clubhouse and library.

Eddie Randolph has owned a dry cleaning business across from Goodbread Hills for the last 35 years and says he looks forward to the future.

"I think the whole community will shape up around the building and I promise I will do the same."

Ruthie Netterville says she'll be back to write a new page in the history of Goodbread Hills and the Frenchtown community. The first residents will start moving in in about seven months, and the entire complex is expected to be filled by Thanksgiving of next year.

Goodbread Hills is a tax credit community based on income. Rent will range between $199 to about $700 a month; however, residents must be living with an income of 60 percent of the area median income.

For a family of four, that's about $35,000 a year. Former Ebony Gardens residents will get first dibs on the new units. Applications will be available early next year.