The City of Norfolk and Norfolk Redevelopment Housing Authority (NRHA) are partnering to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by rebuilding the area known as the St. Paul’s Area to improve upon resilience of both human capital and the environment. This includes the revitalization of the three public housing communities in the St. Paul’s Area – Tidewater Gardens, Young Terrace and Calvert Square – over the next 10 years.
These three communities encompass 1,674 units of public housing that have reached the end of their useful life, flood regularly, and rely on crumbling infrastructure that is difficult to maintain and upgrade.
To jumpstart this transformational project, the City and NRHA applied for a $30 million CNI Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This funding would allow Norfolk to redevelop the first phase of this transformational project – Tidewater Gardens – the community most affected by flooding.
The CNI Grant is centered on three core goals:
Housing – The replacement of both distressed public and assisted housing with well-managed, high-quality mixed income units
People – Improve outcomes of households living in the target housing related to employment and income, health, and children’s education
Neighborhood – The creation of amenities that promote public and private investments in neighborhoods that are important to residents like schools, businesses, and transportation.
Norfolk is on the frontlines of the challenge of sea-level rise. The City has experienced more than 14 inches of relative sea-level rise since 1930, the highest rate on the East Coast. Many sections of Norfolk require improved water management as part of overall resilience efforts
. During heavy rain, high tides, and storm events, many streets in the St. Paul’s area are rendered impassable. The need to better manage water serves as a catalyst to create strong neighborhoods where all residents will thrive. Considering the impacts of sea-level rise, Norfolk's future lies in the city's ability to re-imagine what it will look like to live on the coast over the next 100 years.
The St. Paul’s Revitalization Project, supported by CNI funding, represents a timely and appropriate opportunity to do just that. This endeavor will serve the dual purpose of mitigating the effects of sea-level rise on Tidewater Gardens and creating new economic and housing opportunities in a neighborhood of choice where families and residents of all income levels, races, ages and cultures can live, learn, work, play and thrive.
The crown jewel of the re-imagined St. Paul’s neighborhood will be the transformation of the low-lands area that is often devastated by flooding into a water eco-center comprised of great parks, green spaces as well as a dynamic living laboratory to provide research, educational and recreational opportunities for Norfolk residents, the region, and the world.
The St. Paul’s Transformation Plan will:
1. Transform the area, with its current high concentration of poverty, into a mixed-income, mixed-use community of opportunity that offers first class mixed-income rental and for sale housing;
2. Ensure the physical transformation of the neighborhood is combined with a comprehensive approach to human development that is focused on the needs of people: education, jobs, health and wellness;
3. Leverage, connect, and extend the work in Norfolk’s adjacent Downtown district;
4. Create high-performing neighborhood schools focused on science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, mathematics and project-based learning; and
5. Include a resilient incorporation of water, parks, recreation areas to attract innovative research and technology firms that will open new employment opportunities for residents at all economic levels.
For more information on the status of the CNI grant, and the St. Paul’s Revitalization effort, please visit the official Norfolk revitalization project website.