SRHA planning big things

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Representatives of the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority announced a plan Wednesday to modernize its oldest subsidized housing projects, develop new housing, and cooperate with nearby developers to connect the communities to the rest of the city.

“It is our most obsolete public housing,” said Clarissa McAdoo, the executive director of the authority. The Cypress Manor and Parker Riddick projects are the oldest public housing units in the city, McAdoo said, but rehabilitating them still is feasible.

The plan, which currently includes four phases, involves the housing projects, the White Marsh Plaza, a three-acre city-owned lot near the plaza, the Head Start Center, an 80-acre privately owned tract, and another city-owned parcel, a former sewer site.

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The plan is intended to create a residential neighborhood that is more integrated economically and age-wise, according to a working draft of the master plan. New roads are planned to connect the SRHA neighborhoods with nearby single-family communities such as Lake Kennedy and East Suffolk Gardens, as well as the yet to be developed sites nearby.

Phase 1 of the plan, which should begin in the next year, McAdoo said, will be to modernize 206 Parker Riddick and Cypress Manor apartments and development of new housing. Phase 2 involves the authority gaining control of the three-acre city-owned parcel to construct up to 24 cottage-style single-family homes to support homeownership opportunities for SRHA tenants. The cottages would be priced in the $100,000-$200,000 range.

Phase 3 involves the mixed-income development between the private owner of the 80-acre parcel of wooded property and SRHA. The Lakes at Marsh Pointe neighborhood could include 196 townhouses and 111 single-family residences. Phase 3 also includes the White Marsh Plaza shopping center, formerly anchored by Food Lion, which currently is mostly vacant. The plan is to make the shopping center smaller, fill it with businesses that will be frequented by the residents of the new developments behind it, and use the extra space for more single-family housing as well as senior housing.

A fourth phase of the plan involves the Head Start building, which provides child and youth services programs offered by the Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project.

Asked by Councilman Charles Parr what will be needed from the city to complete the project, Scott Knudson of Wiencek and Associates Architects and Planners noted three requests.

The project as planned will require transfers of small portions of land from the city, zoning flexibility and support of road infrastructure, Knudson said. Pressed by Parr for a dollar amount, Knudson said any requests for monetary support would be forthcoming.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson called the plan “innovative,” “ambitious” and “forward-thinking.”

Primary funding for the project, McAdoo said, is anticipated to come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Stimulus funds also will be used, she said.