NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — Dozens of colorful sketches were revealed to help people visualize what a St. Paul’s redevelopment will look like when finally completed.
On Wednesday, sketches were revealed that showed a diverse group of housing options that include several story buildings with store fronts, housing specifically for seniors, and more traditional 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.
Architects with Torti+Gallas have been meeting with residents of the St. Paul’s public housing complexes for several months to draft the framework for what will replace the aging 1950’s era neighborhood.
“We listened to the input from the people who live here and we really hope they like what we came up with,” said Tom Gallas, CEO of Torti+Gallas.
Last month, Gallas and his team presented sketches of how the new neighborhood could be laid out.
The colorful hand-drawn maps showed new streets connecting to major roadways that bring people in and out of the neighborhood, and no longer building housing units in the floodplain.
In fact, the final vision includes the return of Newton Creek, a waterway filled in when the 618 unit Tidewater Gardens complex was built.
In January, Norfolk City Council voted to have the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority move ahead with plans to eventually level the Tidewater Gardens, Young Terrace, and Calvert Square public housing complexes, and replace them with mixed-income communities. The goal is to increase the quality of life for residents and leave behind the neighborhoods poverty-stricken past.
Tidewater Gardens sits just opposite I-264 from Harbor Park, and is the first phase of a nearly 200-acre redevelopment.
On Wednesday residents were told in what phase they would have to relocate.
“Don’t start packing yet,” said Donna Mills several times during a presentation to residents at a meeting at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception. As the Chief Housing Officer, Mills explained the relocation process.
The 618 units will be moved out in four phases, with phase 1 beginning summer 2019.
The first 187 units to move border City Hall Ave. and lie between Fenchurch Street and Chapel Street.
“[NRHA] will meet with [residents] in the mean time to get their relocation choices on where they would like to move and start working on locations for them to move too,” Mills said.
Current Tidewater Gardens residents have two options in the relocation. A person can either choose to relocate to another NRHA property or take a voucher and live in privately owned section 8 housing.
“Either option you choose, your rent will still be calculated as 30 percent of your income” Mills explained.
All those effected will be given 120 days notice before the final move out day. By that time they will also have to state whether they want to return to the neighborhood once new construction is completed.
Regardless, taxpayers will foot the bill for their move. Residents will be provided counseling, moving/packing services, transportation to find new housing, payment of connection fees for cable and phone at the new location and they can also apply for security and utility deposit loans.
“The funding we receive is from the Department of Urban Development and those funds will pay for the relocation costs,” Mills said.
All these factors had to be included in order to potentially obtain funding for the project.
The city is pursuing a Choice Neighborhood Initiative Implementation Grant worth $30 million to start with the redevelopment of Tidewater Gardens. Torti+Gallas was hired on by the City of Norfolk to provide the site plans for the application.
The city will move forward with the project even if the grant money isn’t awarded according to Hamm Lee.
NRHA is looking to file a demolition permit for Tidewater Gardens with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development this fall.
Groundbreaking on any new housing likely won’t occur until mid 2020 at the earliest.