A South Richmond neighborhood will soon see a wave of affordable housing construction on vacant properties linked to a long-running revitalization effort led by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
The RRHA’s Board of Commissioners gave its blessing Wednesday to sell 55 vacant lots to the Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation and the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust. Homes reserved for families earning less than 80 percent of the area median income — $53,250 for a family of two, or $66,550 for a family of four — will rise on 50 of the lots. The rest will be developed and sold at market rate.
“We’re happy to help grow and revitalize the community,” said Desi Wynter, RRHA’s acting chief real estate officer.
The 55 lots will be split between the two entities. Thirty-four will go to Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation. The nonprofit will work with developer Kelvin Hanson to build and sell single-family homes, according to an agreement shared with the board. The Maggie Walker Community Land Trust will buy the remaining 21 lots.
The transactions with the two entities, as well as their plans for the properties, require approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Wynter said. After RRHA secures the approval, construction on the homes could begin in the next year, he said.
The lots dot the South Richmond neighborhood of Blackwell, an area bounded by Hull Street, Commerce Road, Dinwiddie Avenue and Jefferson Davis Highway. A 440-unit public housing complex once stood in the neighborhood, but RRHA received a $26 million federal grant in 1997 through the HOPE VI program to demolish the complex and revitalize the area.
In the two decades since, the housing authority built 325 income-restricted apartments and single-family homes, including 90 in the neighborhood, with the grant funds. In the meantime, the properties that RRHA is now selling — clustered between Dinwiddie Avenue and Stockton Street from 15th to 19th streets, and Everett and Decatur streets between Ninth and 11th streets — have languished.
Over the past decade, the adjacent Manchester neighborhood has boomed, as developers have built new apartment buildings and converted old industrial properties into new housing. As Manchester has grown, property values in Blackwell have surged. Assessments rose 19% in the two neighborhoods this year.
Compounding the growth is a new historic designation established last fall. The designation, with its state and federal tax incentives for qualifying renovations, is likely to spur more private investment in Blackwell, which could drive home prices higher and contribute to gentrification.
The housing authority’s interim CEO cited the possibility last fall as RRHA issued a request for proposals seeking a developer for 96 properties it owns in the neighborhood. The 55 lots that RRHA intends to sell stem from the offering, which received two responses.
The limited response contributed to RRHA’s decision to hold on to 41 of the lots originally identified in the solicitation as potential sites for market-rate homes. Wynter said those remaining properties will be the subject of a second call for proposals later this year.