The restoration of Art Tatum’s childhood home, where one of Toledo’s greatest jazz icons grew up, would bring jazz lovers to the city and introduce them to everything else Toledo has to offer, Christine Sweeney, Art Tatum Zone executive director, said.
“We’re committed to the long term,” she said. “We really truly believe it’s not just a home, it’s something our city can be proud of.”
The ATZ, a nonprofit dedicated to neighborhood revitalization, recently was awarded two grants totaling $400,000 that will go toward restoring Art Tatum’s home as well as the organization’s “Under One Roof” initiative and the ATZ Workforce Continuum.
The plan is to restore Art Tatum’s childhood home to its original condition and establish a museum, Ms. Sweeney said, as well as showcase what he was able to accomplished.
In its first year, the Under One Roof program will support the restoration of the home, adjacent to The Tabernacle, and then revitalize the surrounding neighborhood, Ms. Sweeney said.
Revitalization in the second year will focus on assisting families in the surrounding community with minor repairs to their homes.
ATZ President Calvin Sweeney said part of the grant funds will also go toward the organization’s Workforce Continuum, which connects high school students with job readiness training and eventual employment.
“So, shadowing, internships, and job employment opportunities,” he said.
Both programs, he said, would help address vertical and horizontal blight in the community. Vertical blight is defined as abandoned and vacant houses, while horizontal blight is defined as vacant and overgrown lots.
Ms. Sweeney also emphasized that the ATZ focuses on working with the community and enabling residents to keep the revitalization process going rather than just being a group coming in and doing projects for the community.
“Economic development is key to make sure a community is growing and thriving,” Ms. Sweeney said.
The Board of Trustees of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation approved two grants from the ProMedica Junction Neighborhood Fund to the ATZ, according to a news release.
ProMedica created the ProMedica Junction Neighborhood Fund of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation with the intent to invest grants of approximately $2.5 million to that area.
Much of the money would be used over two years by nonprofit groups that provide services for residents of the Junction Neighborhood, such as education and training, health and wellness, jobs and finances, stable housing, and basic needs.