A vacant lot in Third Ward has been transformed into a chess park thanks to a local developer and now, renowned artists are doing their part to improve the area even more.
The lot at McGowen and Live Oak streets had been an eyesore until Ciara Jarmon, a developer and realtor with Realinc LLC which specializes in Third Ward real estate, and the Cinque Project, a local nonprofit directed by Rich Johnson, decided to make it a safe green space for residents of all ages. Jarmon said she wanted to offer a fresh outlook to stakeholders of what community advocates are willing to bring to the area.
“I am doing what I can do to be a part of the solution to this major problem, not just for my family but for others as well,” said Jarmon, who lives in the area with her family. “I am hoping to generate and bridge more collaboration between the public and private sectors and increase Black ownership and generational wealth in Third Ward.”
Artist Max Syron heard about the park and recently created a “Star Bench,” a unique sculpted bench that provides both seating and a creative play structure. A collection of writings that highlight stars and astronomy adorn the bench.
Many years before the formalized park, local residents frequently came together to play games such as cards, dominoes and chess. They meet regularly at the corner of Sauer and Tuam streets in a vacant lot under a tree with discarded tables and broken chairs, according to Ed Pettitt with the Mayor’s Third Ward Complete Communities program.
A new owner recently purchased the vacant lot where residents played. In recent years, developers have torn down shotgun and bungalow houses in Third Ward to make room for luxury townhomes, Pettitt said.
“The realization that this vacant lot may not be vacant much longer sparked an effort to identify a new space with better infrastructure to make a case for long-term investment,” he said.