Church Hill North Transformation meeting summary from Rob Fossi

Meeting dealt with proposed redevelopment in the Church Hill North community.

On Tuesday, April 22, community members, local leaders, concerned citizens and organizational representatives met to discuss the Church Hill North revitalization project.

Rob Fossi is the Vice President and Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region for Community Builders, Inc. His organization is directly involved in the redevelopment plans currently under consideration in Church Hill North.

The overarching goal of the project seems to be based on the Choice Neighborhood Initiative from Housing and Urban Development (which Rossi discusses below). Here are the “three key areas of impact” according to the Choice Neighborhood Initiative:

Housing: Transforming distressed public housing into energy efficient, attractive, mixed income housing

 –People: Supporting positive outcomes in health, education, safety, employment for residents of public and privately-owned housing  

Neighborhoods: Converting poverty areas into mixed income, healthy communities with viable schools, services, and access to jobs.

Fossi’s detailed summary of the meeting is posted below in full (emphasis and links are my own):

-…The meeting included an update on the Church Hill North plan, recommendations and timeline for moving forward and reminders that substantive engagement and input of Creighton Court and community residents are essential to creating the redevelopment plan. The meeting also included an introduction to partners charged with broadening and deepening that engagement process.

– Opening remarks were given by Mayor Dwight Jones; Peter Chapman, Deputy CAO for Economic and Community Development; RRHA (Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority) CEO Adrienne Goolsby; City Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille and members of the Master Developer team, The Community Builders, Inc. (TCB). The Mayor congratulated the community for committing to the sometimes arduous journey that will lead to a new and promising future for themselves and their neighbors. He stressed that the continuous and active involvement of residents is essential to charting the right path and keeping us all on the straight and narrow. RRHA CEO Adrienne Goolsby also expressed her gratitude to residents for not simply attending, but committing their time and talents. She highlighted the importance of connecting to existing supportive services to ensure that all residents are lease compliant and prepared to be active participants of the revitalized community.  She underscored TCB’s assurances that criteria for living in the revitalized community will be developed through resident input.

– TCB shared information about the central role residents played during planning and implementation of revitalization of the Broad Creek community in Norfolk, VA – a former public housing neighborhood that was transformed by TCB into a mixed-income community. TCB directed a special request to Creighton residents to join one of the Working Groups created to shape the redevelopment plan as well as the implementation of the plan. TCB introduced several partners, including:  Richmond Public Schools, Bon Secours, Richmond Promise Neighborhoods, Storefront for Community Design and Engaging Richmond, as examples of the growing scope and collaboration building around the redevelopment process.

– New master planner Torti Gallas provided a first look at refined planning tools and approaches to help the working groups capture ideas and recommendations. A process outline and meeting schedule was presented that documented how RRHA, TCB, the City of Richmond, and the growing list of partners and supporters will continue to work closely with residents and the community at large through facilitated community planning sessions, to draft a redevelopment plan.

This transformation effort is a strategic redevelopment and revitalization priority that includes the multifaceted and phased transformation of Church Hill North and RRHA’s Creighton and Whitcomb public housing communities and surrounding corridors into a vibrant, mixed-income, mixed-use community.  Consistent with HUD’s Choice Neighborhood Initiative, the revitalization strategy is organized around three key areas of impact – Housing, People, and Neighborhoods.

Much thanks to Rob Fossi for his insight. We will be following this story and providing further interviews and information from the individuals directly involved in the decision-making process.

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Eric Steigleder

Eric Steigleder is a freelance writer, political junkie, coffee-addict and proud Globehopper regular.

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