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History of housing complex unfinished

The Housing Authority still wants a documentary on Jordan Park, but Adele Hughes, her company and more than $24,000 have vanished.


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG -- The St. Petersburg Housing Authority didn't want to tear down Jordan Park, the city's oldest public housing complex, without documenting the key role it played in local African-American history.

So the Housing Authority decided to spend $24,800 to hire Adele Hughes and her St. Petersburg production company, Visions II, to prepare a "broadcast quality" documentary of the history of Jordan Park, in video and CD-ROM.

But the project deadline passed nearly one year ago and the final tape isn't in. Housing Authority Executive Director Darrell Irions said he doesn't know where to find Hughes to have her put the final touches on the video, and to return historical documents he loaned her -- even though she has been paid all but $348 of her contract.

"The company pulled up stakes," Irions told the Housing Authority's board on Thursday. "We've got some tapes, but we don't have everything." He estimated the project was 90 percent complete.

Irions said he spoke Thursday to the Housing Authority's attorney, who had drawn up a lawsuit. "So I said, "File it.' "

A September 2000 letter from the Housing Authority said an early draft of the tape was "completely unacceptable in its current form and must be completely reworked."

No one answered Thursday afternoon at the phone number for Visions II. Irions said he saw the company's cameraman recently working as a waiter at a restaurant, but he did not know how to reach Hughes either.

Irions and other Housing Authority officials said Hughes did some nice work in researching Jordan Park's history, assembling old newspaper articles and having a local television journalist interview former residents. Jordan Park is being rebuilt as part of a federal program called Hope VI.

In another matter, the Housing Authority failed to approve a provision of a legal contract that would have prevented Housing Authority attorney Ricardo Gilmore from representing board members on independent matters. The proposal died on a 3-3 vote, with one board member absent.

Gilmore is resident agent for two for-profit corporations of which board member Lorian S. Williams is president, Chaslo Merchandise and Printing and Youthpreneurs Institute.

The fact that the vote failed means that business relationship can continue.

Also Thursday, the Housing Authority approved hiring a private management company to operate Graham-Rogall apartments, meaning the Housing Authority has privatized day-to-day management of all its complexes.

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