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January 9, 2007

City Strobe: This vandal has a steady, considered hand

Liberty GreenThe signage for Liberty Green, the mixed-income housing development now being constructed on the former footprint of downtown’s Clarksdale housing project, is innocuous enough: title, phone numbers one might dial to inquire about living there, artistic renditions of a few model buildings. But when driving by the fenced-in lots last weekend, we noticed an addition: Directly under the title, in neat, considered cursive, is this bit of graffiti: “Built On Broken Promises.” Until you read it closely, you might think it’s part of the actual sign — a weird thing for Metro Government to say about one of its flagship public-private housing projects. We have no idea who penned the crafty stab at the project, though we can guess why it’s there: By October 2005, all 728 families then living in Clarksdale — a public housing complex — had been moved out. Though each were given other options, including applying for housing at Liberty Green, many were furious that their homes were being leveled and replaced by the nicer, more expensive condos, apartments and townhouses, many of which are available for commercial sale. They felt betrayed. And if there’s one way to act out, it’s a subtle, guerilla sabotage job like this. Roughly one-third of Liberty Green is public housing; less than half of the Clarksdale families chose to apply for it. —Stephen George