NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Demolition has begun on a public housing complex in Norfolk.
We’ve covered the controversial project at Tidewater Gardens for about a decade. Now, the first unit is about to fall at the corner of Fenchurch and Wood streets to make way for a new pump station that will support new homes in the St. Paul’s area.
Excavators began breaking down the aging complex Monday morning. The goal of the demolition is to revitalize downtown while also improving the quality of life for residents in the area.
The revitalization will level the Tidewater Gardens, Young Terrace and Calvert Square public housing complexes.
All 618 units at Tidewater Gardens will be torn down and rebuilt as part of the first phase, which is supported by a $30-million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The first to go is a six-unit, two-story building at the corner of Fenchurch and Wood streets.
Residents who lived in the Tidewater Gardens were relocated to new housing of their choice.
After several years of warning, mandatory move-out notices were mailed to residents of about 50 units in Tidewater Gardens in late October.
Once the project is complete, the new housing will come in to create mixed-income communities.
The massive transformation will include improvements to infrastructure and provide more opportunities for residents and economic development.
However, this demolition and revitalization didn’t come without pushback.
In January, a lawsuit was filed by residents and other entities who felt the project would further segregate and disadvantage Black residents. They were also concerned that replacement units wouldn’t be constructed before the current complex is leveled.
Groundbreaking on the new buildings is estimated for June and completion is slated for 2022.