Marshall-Ridley Choice Neighborhood Transformation Plan
This is a story of resilience, of a once-thriving African American community that is reconnecting the pieces of its historic neighborhood and rising again. The Southeast Community (SEC) of Newport News was once the gateway to the city. Its distinguished history paralleled the development of Newport News Shipbuilding, which today is one of the largest shipyards in the world. But like many American cities in the 1950s and 1960s, residents migrated to the suburbs. This was followed by economic decline and soon large public and assisted housing sites, such as Ridley Place apartments, were concentrated in the SEC. Decades of disinvestment followed.
The HUD Choice Neighborhoods planning process brought Ridley Place residents together with community members and City representatives to slowly reestablish trust and build upon recent revitalization efforts initiated by the City and Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
Neighborhood clean ups, a bus trip to North Carolina with over 60 participants, and a two-part leadership series are a few of the events that fostered local leadership and dialogue resulting in a community-driven plan.
The five-phased plan strives to equitably distribute affordable housing citywide while deconcentrating poverty in the Choice Neighborhood. Altogether, the plan calls for 520 units of new housing in the form of townhouses, single family homes, multi-family residences, senior housing, and infill homeownership. A mix of replacement, affordable, and market-rate housing will be built on-site at Ridley Place, at a prominent gateway in the Choice neighborhood, and Downtown.
One of three Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant winners nationwide.
The redevelopment of Ridley Place will reconnect the historic grid to generate activity along main street and increase safety with more foot traffic. A green spine will provide much-needed open space, community gardens to grow healthy affordable food, play areas, and a bike/pedestrian trail connecting to a large waterfront park. A former industrial site will be transformed into ball fields and help mitigate storm surge. Ground-floor retail spaces and higher density at the gateway and Downtown sites will increase the area’s ability to attract new residents and businesses, reduce auto-dependency, and create healthier places to live, work and play.
WRT served as grant writer, planning coordinator, and master planner to the City of Newport News and Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority. In May 2019, the Redevelopment and Housing Authority was awarded a $30 million HUD Choice Implementation Grant—one of three winners nationwide. WRT will continue to stay engaged as architects and landscape architects to assist with implementation.