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The two-year effort could net $30 million for the Loudon-Melrose and Shenandoah areas.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Roanoke’s housing authority is bidding for millions of dollars of federal grants for a massive revitalization effort in the Loudon-Melrose and Shenandoah neighborhoods.
To do so, it has just started what will be a nearly two-year effort to ask residents what the community needs and then turn that into a formal plan, executive director Glenda Edwards said Friday.
When completed in early 2015, the plan will be the city’s pitch for one of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhood grants, which in recent years have averaged $30 million.
The plan will include ideas for renovating public housing in Lansdowne Park and Melrose Towers, as well as for affordable housing elsewhere in a stretch of the city between 14th and 31st streets and Shenandoah and Melrose avenues.
But the plan also will present proposals to boost services in the area, possibly ranging from medical and other support for its many elderly residents, to programs for schools and youth.
“We really have a blank piece of paper,” Edwards said. “We want the community to tell us what people need here.”
Desi Wynter, the authority’s director of redevelopment, has already started making the rounds of neighborhood groups and potential partners in city hall and among the area’s nonprofit service agencies.
He’s aiming for a large community meeting later in the spring and says he’d like area residents to call him with their ideas and questions. It will be the first of eight gatherings to review the community’s needs, come up with a vision for its future, and work on a detailed plan to get there.
The authority will shortly issue a request for proposals from planning consultants to help the community turn its ideas about the future into a concrete document for HUD.
Roanoke already has made it past one hurdle — the housing authority was one of 17, out of a total of 72, to win a grant from HUD for the planning effort.
“Just doing the planning is great, but to get the $30 million could transform that neighborhood,” said City Manager Chris Morrill.
He said the city already plans an expansion at the Melrose branch library and is targeting reading and early childhood programs for the neighborhood. It is also at the top of the city’s list for the next neighborhoods to be targeted for revitalization efforts funded through the federal Community Development Block Grant, a separate program from the Choice Neighborhoods grants.
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