Montgomery is a city rich in history, known for the renaissance of its historic downtown, the redevelopment of its riverfront, and for being the birthplace of the modern Civil Rights movement. But it is also home to some of the most distressed communities in the country, including Centennial Hill. Once a vital and prosperous African American neighborhood located adjacent to downtown, Centennial Hill has been in decline since the 1960s due in part to the bisecting of the community by Interstate-85 and subsequent disinvestment ever since.
Today, the poverty rate in Centennial Hill is a staggering 73.56% and the long-term vacancy rate is 16.41%. Portions of Centennial Hill have been designated as an Opportunity Zone by U.S. Treasury, and the USDA has designated a portion as a food desert as well. The revitalization of Centennial Hill has been a long-term priority of both MHA and the City. The City of Montgomery created a TIF district in the neighborhood, and a part of the community sits in the Montgomery I-65 Corridor Development Authority Area. Centennial Hill has been the subject of two long-term planning initiatives conducted by the City. In terms of investment in the neighborhood, MHA has led the way with the revitalization of MHA’s high-rise Richardson Terrace, 100 units of new construction at Tulane Gardens and the development of the Plaza at Centennial Hill Phases I and II. But progress has been slow to come. The spark that powers neighborhood transformation has not yet been felt in Centennial Hill.