Improvements Pending Along MLK Boulevard on MLK Holiday

A hospital, a theater, shopping centers getting new attention.

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Projects large and small were pending around Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Dallas on the holiday that honors the slain civil rights leader.

A march sponsored by the Next Generation Action Network on MLK Boulevard Monday passed right in front of the former Forest Avenue Hospital.

The building at 2516 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard has been closed for many years. 

Young people in the march likely do not recall when it was the only place in the neighborhood where African American’s could get medical care.

Dentist Michelle Morgan bought the old building in 2016 in the neighborhood where she grew up.

“The vision is to bring the building back to life but make it a class A medical facility,” she said. “I bring my profession and I also bring my love and obligation as a successful person back to my neighborhood.”

COVID-19 and other complications delayed progress but Morgan said she hoped to have the project completed in about a year.

She has attracted supporters, included retired nurse Barbara Thompson, who also grew up in the neighborhood.

“I really think that this building can be restored to what it used to be and even better simply because of all the innovation that’s going on now,” Thompson said.

Down the street from the old hospital, boards are up around the old Forest Theater. A person involved with that renovation project said to expect a big announcement within the next month.

The theater is right beside the S.M. Wright Freeway, which is being removed and leveled to be replaced with a tree-lined boulevard, intended to reunite portions of the neighborhood divided by the original freeway construction.

Two churches are involved with shopping center renovations with city support.

Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard itself received beautification recently, to spruce up the key route to Dallas Fair Park.

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who represents the neighborhood, acknowledged the Martin Luther King Boulevard improvements but questioned whether enough had been done to support the surrounding community.

“It's not so much what you're doing with amenities to make the street nice. What are you doing with the buttressing community?” Price said. “What does the community look like in terms of housing stock, in terms of grocery stores, food for kids. What does that look like?”

Neighbors and Dallas city leaders have discussed all of those things. A city council committee Tuesday will discuss zoning action against two liquor stores on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Many blighted properties still need help. But new homes are also under construction in the South Dallas neighborhood around Martin Luther King Boulevard Jr.

“It's all about, as Martin Luther King would say, keeping the dream alive, keeping hope alive,” Thompson said.

That was the message Monday, along Martin Luther King Boulevard Jr..

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