During the past three years, Creighton Court residents have participated in workshops to help design the new community that was to replace the old units. But the projected $125 million cost to replace the 506 units in Creighton is making the RRHA reconsider the whole project and take a new approach.
Amid rising costs of construction that have pushed the price tag for building new apartments to around $250,000 a unit, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority is considering remodeling existing units at a fraction of that cost and keeping them in place as a major element of affordable housing for the city’s poorest residents.
RRHA is undertaking a study to determine the feasibility of renovating most, if not all, of the estimated 3,300 apartments in Fairfield Court, Gilpin Court, Hillside Court, Mosby Court and Whitcomb Court, according to Orlando C. Artze, RRHA’s interim chief executive officer.
He said there could be a mix of new construction and remodeling in some places, depending on the condition of various buildings. But he indicated that the communities that thousands of families call home are no longer demolition targets. (…)
The five years it took to develop and start the Armstrong project shows that it would take decades to get all of the public housing units replaced with new buildings.
Mr. Artze said the renovation model would allow RRHA to move much faster using a mix of bond financing, tax credits and government aid while also sharply cutting the cost. Mr. Artze suggested that modernizing the current public housing might require an investment of $50,000 to $60,000 a unit, or less than 25 percent of the cost of building new units. By shifting the focus to remodeling and improving existing units, RRHA could work on 200 units a year, he said, meaning all of the units could be modernized in 10 to 15 years.