Alberta J. Canada Building grand opening Aug. 31

The brightly colored building at the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and 11th Street has no doubt caught the eye of a great many passersby.
The public won’t have to wait much longer to get an even closer look at the new Alberta J. Canada Building and Martin Luther King New Look Apartments, as a grand opening ceremony is set for Friday, Aug. 31, at 10 a.m.
The building is named in honor of noted community activist Alberta J. Canada, co-founder of the Martin Luther King Housing Development Association.
A 38-year resident of Hilltop, in 1988 she quit her civil service job of 25 years in order to devote her energies to helping her crime-torn Hilltop neighborhood.
She passed away in April 1999, at the age of 51.
Combining urban renewal with affordable housing, the building includes a 49-unit senior housing complex — the top three floors — over 10,000-square-feet that includes a bank and several other establishments.
The Art Deco exterior of the building is meant to preserve the historic character of the re-emerging Hilltop business district, which is being transformed from a high crime area into a secure, walkable urban neighborhood.
“We were trying to preserve the building (that originally stood there),” said Felix Flannigan, executive director of the MLK Housing Development Association.
That wasn’t possible, he said, because of structural concerns, like sliding walls, so construction on a new building began in January of this year.
“The building is almost as it appeared years ago,” Flannigan noted. “But we added three floors.”
Lugo Construction of Fife constructed the building.
Project manager/designer Brett Lind-say had nothing but praise for the work done by Lugo Construction.
“They went above and beyond the call of duty,” he said.
Even with just over a week to go until the official opening of the building, it’s proving to be a popular location.
Affordable housing has seen leases signed on 18 of the apartments — where residents must be at least 62 years old — so far.
The apartment complex is expected to reach full occupancy by Dec. 1.
The MLK New Look Apartments offer one-and-two-bedroom apartments, and such amenities as a courtyard, and laundry room facilities on every floor.
Business owners, too, are looking forward to being part of the new building.
Deborah Tuggle, owner of Friday’s Cookies, considers this a great opportunity for her business.
About a year ago, she was approached by the MLK Housing Development Association, an organization that had ordered cookies from her before.
“I jumped at it immediately,” she said. “I wanted to be here, and I’m proud to have my business here.”