The theme of the evening was transformation and community engagement for the standing-room-only crowd of around 200 people at Woodville Elementary last night. A bevy of city officials including Mayor Dwight Jones, the RRHA’s Adrienne Goolsby, 6th and 7th Council Representatives Ellen Robertson and Cynthia Newbille, and 7th District Schoolboard Representative Don Coleman were on hand to be a part the Planning Kickoff Meeting to begin the comprehensive effort designed to transform the Church Hill North and Creighton Court communities.
The planning process is expected to last 12-18 months, and to produce a document outlining a vision of how a portion of the East East might be transformed. According to the map on the flyer, the planning area includes the northern edge of Church Hill North, Fairmount, Woodville, and the Creighton Court area, though in conversation Fairfield Court, Mosby Court, and the Whitcomb area were all included as well.
At the end of the planning process, the project should then be competitive towards winning a $30,000,000 HUD-funded Choice Neighborhoods implementation grant to put the plan to reality. As The Community Builders’ Rob Fossi said, the process “is intended to lead to real development”.
Zachary Reid of of the Times-Dispatch offers this description of the project:
The idea is to begin by replacing the 503-unit Creighton Court housing complex – the second largest of RRHA’s six court-style developments — with a mix of housing types.
As that happens, similar redevelopment of the nearby Whitcomb Court, a 491-unit project, is also scheduled, with an overall goal of bringing into the projects privately owned homes and businesses in that part of town.
The goal of the process goes well beyond the physical rehabilitation of the area. At its root is the alleviation of poverty through the improvement of the quality life for all residents in the area through the creation of mixed-income communities. Councilwoman Newbille stated directly that the plan will include 1-for-1 replacement for public housing units and a new grocery store.
The Community Builders, a Boston-based non-profit development corporation, will be guiding the process. TCB brings almost 30 years experience in neighborhood revitalization projects, and manages a large number of properties. They presented Oakwood Shores in Chicago, Dutch Point in Connecticut, and Broadcreek Renaissance in Norfolk as examples of their redevelopment portfolio.
This is not the first time that there has a push to redevelop the struggling areas of the East End. In the late 1960s, Richmond received grants through the Model Cities Program to make a plan to help bring middle-income home owners back into parts of Church Hill. What we got instead was the Chimbo Mart and a broom factory. In late 2006, Councilwoman McQuinn let us believe that there would be a grocery store at 25th and Nine Mile by 2009. In 2010, the East End Transformation Charrette engaged the community in hoping for big change. What we got instead was a new sidewalk and some trees for S Street.
Juanita Buster of the City’s Department of Economic and Community Development addressed potential “planning fatigue”, saying that this can be different and there is a push to get some development going even during the planning process. There is a model block of new houses already underway, for example, in the 1300 blocks of 26th and 27th Streets. In addition, the city is looking to put in place an abbreviated streetscape plan for parts of Nine Mile Road.
TAGGED: Adrienne Goolsby, Church Hill North, Church Hill North Neighborhood Transformation, Creighton, Cynthia Newbille, Don Coleman, Ellen Robertson, Juanita Buster, Nine Mile Road, real estate, Whitcomb