The St. Paul’s Area is 200 acres bordered by St. Paul’s Boulevard to the west, Virginia Beach Boulevard to the north, Tidewater Drive to the east, and City Hall Avenue on the South. The area includes three public housing communities comprised of 1,674 family units developed in the 1950s: Young Terrace, Calvert Square, and Tidewater Gardens. The St. Paul’s Area stands in stark contrast to the adjacent Central Business District in Downtown Norfolk. St. Paul’s Boulevard is a dividing line between Downtown (on the west side) and Tidewater Gardens (on the east side). Tidewater Gardens was developed in 1955 on top of a filled Newton Creek and more than half of Tidewater Gardens and Calvert Square are in the 100-year flood plain.
Today the St. Paul’s Area faces significant challenges due to extensive tidal and storm water flooding, aging infrastructure and housing, social and physical isolation from a lack of connectivity to the rest of the city, and a geographic concentration of poverty. Despite challenges, the community has preserved remarkable and cultural assets including several significant churches, the William A. Hunton YMCA, and the Attucks Theatre. Additionally, St. Paul’s Area residents are the source of remarkable resilience and perseverance throughout the history of the community.
Planning Efforts for the St. Paul’s Transformation Area
- 2005: The City, residents, and businesses began discussions and developed plans to transform the area into a mixed income, mixed use neighborhood with pedestrian friendly development.
- 2014: The City and NRHA created a vision for the area as identified in the Choice Neighborhood Initiative Transformation Plan (Planning Grant).
- 2015/2016: Plans further evolved during the City’s participation in HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) grant opportunity. A component of Virginia’s application called for demolition of Tidewater Gardens and Calvert Square in order to remove public housing from flood-prone areas and the introduction of innovative stormwater techniques that new mixed-income communities to be developed and thrive within the area.
- 2016: To implement the recommendations of Norfolk’s Plan to Reduce Poverty the City began discussions with Purpose Built Communities, a nonprofit consulting group, that promotes a comprehensive model that links housing, education, workforce development, transportation and health services. The model is people-centered, and neighborhood based.
- 2018: City Council passed a resolution authorizing the City to move forward in partnership to transform the St. Paul’s Area.
- 2018/2019: The City and NRHA pursued and won a $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) Implementation Grant to jump start phase 1 of the transformation by redeveloping Tidewater Gardens.