Huntersville to see a renaissance

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 2, 2005

The Suffolk City Council initiated efforts to give the neglected Huntersville community a much-needed shot in the arm Wednesday.

The council unanimously approved a resolution directing the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority to develop a conservation or rehabilitation plan for the neighborhood.

Having the conservation designation will make homeowners eligible for special loan programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal programs, said northern Suffolk developer Bob Williams.

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&uot;We’re trying to create affordable housing,&uot; said Williams, who is in the process of selling 10 lots to Associated Contractors Inc. and Hampton Road Development Associates, both of Portsmouth.

&uot;If we really want to make it affordable, we need this designation,&uot; he said. &uot;That is the only way individuals will be able to get the benefit of everything that is available to them.&uot;

The conservation status can do much to enhance the blighted community tucked in the pocket of the increasingly affluent area of the city, said Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett.

&uot;I think it means a lot to the future of Huntersville,&uot; he said. &uot;It will help move the neighborhood to the next level and entice the private sector to make more investments in the community.&uot;

Construction on the 10 new homes should begin shortly after the conservation plan is approved, Bennett said.

&uot;The hope is that people already living in the community would be able to take advantage of these new homes,&uot; he said.

The explosive growth in northern Suffolk, including the Harbour View development and nearby high-tech business corridor, makes improvements to Huntersville community even more critical, he added.

&uot;It is very important,&uot; he said. &uot;All the new build-up…is so close to an area that is depressed and not as presentable.

&uot;This will help improve all of the area.&uot;

The council’s action on Wednesday comes six months after Bennett urged his fellow lawmakers to increase rehabilitation funding for Huntersville from $50,000 to $100,000 this year.

Huntersville is the first in a string of dilapidated communities across the city that will begin receiving funding for capital improvements over the next decade. Under the council’s existing plan, neighborhoods and villages with adopted plans will receive $50,000 and $100,000 respectively for 10 years.

Although Bennett’s proposal eventually passed, council members Curtis Milteer Sr. and Charles F. Brown, at a December council meeting, said the move wouldn’t be fair to residents living in the city’s other dilapidated neighborhoods.

During that meeting, Milteer said he would &uot;jump off a building&uot; before supporting the recommendation. Brown, at the same time, called the land in Huntersville a &uot;gold mine,&uot; and said he would sell it and relocate if he were a property owner.

Their comments raised the ire of residents, who publicly demanded an apology the following week.