Richmond Banks on Private Redevelopment for Aging Public Housing Complex

The city hopes to see a mixed-use,mixed-income project replace the aging, “physically obsolete” Gilpin Court complex.

2 minute read

May 23, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

The City of Richmond hopes to attract redevelopment to the state’s largest public housing project, a 38-acre complex of 98 buildings that have fallen into disrepair, with 98 percent of units deemed “physically obsolete.” The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) has re-issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) to redevelop Gilpin Court, whose maintenance backlog “is millions more than the City of Richmond could ever reconcile.” 

Wyatt Gordon describes the effort in Next City. “For the neighborhood that comes after Gilpin, [RRHA CEO Steven Nesmith] envisions women- and minority-owned businesses, a resident reinvestment fund, grocery stores, a community health clinic, a job training center, and a mixture of multi-family rental units and single-family homeownership options for current public housing residents.”

According to Paul Williams, executive director of the Center for Public Enterprise, turning to private developers is the only viable option for many housing authorities. “Until Congress appropriates the funds that public housing requires and needs, conversions are the only viable tool in housing authority directors’ pocket to give residents the quality housing they deserve.”

Gordon writes that “If Gilpin’s residents are as well taken care of as those who moved out of the now demolished Creighton Court and into the mixed-income Armstrong Renaissance community next door, then LaFonda Page — a former public housing resident and current organizer for the Legal Aid Justice Center — believes the redevelopment will be welcomed by residents with open arms.”

Thursday, May 18, 2023 in Next City

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