August 7, 2009

Gary, Ind., hopes Jackson home boosts city

Gary, Ind., Mayor Rudy Clay says he hopes Michael Jackson's boyhood home will become not only a tribute to the singer's life, but also help revive the city.

Clay said he plans to seek historical status for the area around the vacant, two-bedroom home at 2300 Jackson Street, named for the president, not The Jackson 5 group, USA Today reported

We want to make Michael Jackson's home shine for the entire world. This would be a boost for the city, Clay said, adding that developers are talking about building a hotel near an as-yet unrealized museum. We're adamant about making it happen.

When the Jacksons lived in Gary, the Chicago suburb had nearly twice as many residents as it does now and the steel plants provided good jobs, city officials said. Now the city has a budget shortfall, an unemployment rate of 12 percent and block upon block of boarded structures.

Anything would help Gary. It's pretty bad, says Daniel Golden Sr., owner of Danny's, a carryout restaurant on Broadway, the main street.

Talk of a tribute to the Jacksons in Gary began before Michael Jacksom's death. City officials met with the family in California in 1995 to discuss a museum and amusement park. During a 2003 visit to Gary, Michael Jackson spoke of plans for a performing arts center. Last year, father Joe Jackson was in Gary to discuss a museum.