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Hurt Park Revitalization

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The Hurt Park "New Horizons" revitalization effort is currently winding down to its close. However, there are still programmatic commitments underway and the City continues to monitor the neighborhood. Of the remaining work being done, the Police Department has instituted a Drug Market Initiative in Hurt Park that continues to produce results. See the story as reported by WSLS Channel 10 at this link:

WSLS Drug Market Initiative Story, March 2, 2012

Most of the HUD housing investment in Hurt Park has been completed, however there are still new and rehabilitated houses for sale. Beginning July 1, 2012 the City will be focusing the majority of its HUD funds in the West End Target Area.


Progress

The Hurt Park "New Horizons" Intiative is well underway and has already achieved the following:
  • New Hurt Park Townhomes
  • Infrastructure Improvements surrounding Hurt Park Townhomes
  • Formation of the Roanoke Neighborhood Revitalization Partnership
  • Hurt Park May Day and Revitalization Kick-Off
  • Healthy Living program at Hurt Park Elementary
  • Promotion of Incentives to Hurt Park Businesses
  • Neighborhood Watch training
  • Two Neighborhood Clean-up Events
  • Oral History Project with Roanoke Public Libraries
Click here for a copy of the May 12, 2008 Progress Report presented to City Council.

City Planning

As in Southeast and in Gainsboro, since July 2007, the City has been investing a significant portion of its federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funds to help revitalize Hurt Park. The resources of various City departments are also contributing to this effort. In the Southeast and Gainsboro neighborhoods, the investments each spanned about a four-year period. It will be similar for the Hurt Park revitalization project.

Hurt Park Selection

For years, the City used most of its CDBG and HOME funds in projects that covered large portions of the community. While many benefited from these projects, the visible impact was spread too thinly to revitalize neighborhoods. In late 2001, City Council approved a policy to identify neighborhoods where the funds should be concentrated. Thereafter, a community task force recommended six target neighborhoods—Gainsboro, Gilmer, Hurt Park, Loudon-Melrose, Old Southwest and Washington Park—which Council adopted. To gain experience with the concentrated funding approach, a pilot project was first undertaken in Southeast, followed by the work in Gainsboro. In December 2005, the City Manager recommended, and Council supported, Hurt Park as the next target neighborhood after Gainsboro.

"New Horizons" Revitalization Initiative

Planning for the Hurt Park initiative began in early 2006 and many City departments joined together to form the Hurt Park Roundtable. This interdepartmental group developed goals, many of which have already been met. The city recognizes how important the activities to be undertaken in the neighborhood are to Hurt Park residents and stakeholders, and how important it is to have the support of the residents and stakeholders for these Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)-funded activities. For this reason the Hurt Park Advisory Committee was formed in 2006 and comprised representatives from the community (both citizens, business owners and nonprofits). In late 2008 this group merged with the already established Hurt Park Neighborhood Alliance, which meets monthly to discuss neighborhood issues and the progress of "New Horizons." Leadership of the Hurt Park Neighborhood Alliance has been instrumental in advising the City, and helping to ensure that information about the revitalization activities flows to, from and among the various neighborhood stakeholders, nonprofits and others. The HPNA is meant to be a vehicle for the “community” to become engaged in the project.

The first round of targeted funding for Hurt Park was made available in July 2007 and helped pave the way for the new townhomes built by the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority. CDBG funds were used to connect streets and add curb, gutter and sidewalk along the streets surrounding the new development. Also in 2007 a unique partnership, the Roanoke Neighborhood Revitalization Partnership, was formed between Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Total Action Against Poverty, Blue Ridge Housing Development Corporation, Rebuilding Together Roanoke and Habitat for Humanity. Together these five agencies will work to improve housing and neighborhood conditions in Hurt Park.

Hurt Park Project Activities

A revitalization effort has housing, economic, human and neighborhood development dimensions. City departments have identified and planned a number of options for improvements and consider neighborhood views regarding activities to undertake. Everyone recognizes that rehabilitating existing housing and constructing new housing will be a high priority. Much work is needed on Rorer Avenue, but also on Salem Avenue and elsewhere. These efforts and the Housing Authority’s redevelopment of its former public housing site on Salem Avenue are mutually supporting. In addition, the City has facilitated a collaboration among the community’s five nonprofit housing agencies to plan and implement a coordinated approach to addressing housing needs in the neighborhood. Along with the Housing Authority, the collaboration includes Blue Ridge Housing Development Corp., Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley, Rebuilding Together Roanoke and Total Action Against Poverty. These agencies continue to meet with the Hurt Park Neighborhood Alliance, Inc. to obtain feedback regarding the neighborhood housing activities.

Along with housing, other physical improvements were found to be needed in some areas of Hurt Park. A large CDBG investment in public infrastructure in the area around the Housing Authority’s redevelopment on Salem Avenue was completed in 2008. Thereafter, curb, gutter and sidewalks were installed in several areas of the neighborhood that lacked these features.

In the area of benefits to business, the City’s economic development staff have marketed Enterprise Zone incentives such as job, fašade improvement, and rehabilitation grants. Especially in the Patterson Avenue and 13th Street area, such incentives could increase the vitality of this Village Center.

Among the activities focused on human development, the City’s Health Department and Parks and Recreation staff worked together on enhancing healthy lifestyles, while the City library coordinated with residents on an oral history project. In the area of public safety, enhanced police bike patrol services continue to increase residents' sense of security in the neighborhood.

Many activities are part of the Hurt Park effort. The City’s concepts have been and will continue to be brought to the public for its views. Plans have evolved over the life of the project and through this continued consultation with the neighborhood.

Planning Efforts

The Roanoke Department of Planning, Building and Development worked with Hurt Park neighborhood representatives, residents, property owners, and business owners to prepare the Hurt Park/Mountain View/West End Neighborhood Plan and the Hurt Park Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area plan.

Through numerous work sessions, the community's issues, opportunities, and areas of greatest need were discussed. This involvement formed the basis for the plan's recommendations and assured that community interests, as well as the overall concerns of the City of Roanoke were addressed. The plan was adopted by Roanoke City Council on June 16, 2003 and it became an integral part of Roanoke's Vision 2001-2020 Comprehensive Plan.

High priority initiatives for implementation:
  • ZONING CHANGES - Amend the zoning ordinance to ensure that new residential development is compatible with existing structures in terms of setbacks and lot coverage, and to maximize the development potential of vacant properties and structures. In addition, limit the conversion of single-family homes by special exception permit (Ordinance 1215105).
  • HOUSING DEVELOPMENT - Establish this plan as a framework for more specific revitalization plans, to be considered in future allocations of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME funds. Particular emphasis is being placed on infill development, the rehabilitation of substandard structures, historic tax credit opportunities and adherence to guidelines of the H-2 Neighborhood Preservation District, and initiatives to increase homeownership. In addition, insure that new grant funded housing development adheres to the design guidelines of Vision 2001-2020. Phase One of the Hurt Park Townhomes was completed in January 2009.
  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT - Applied for the reinstatement of State Enterprise Zone One in 2004, and consider allocating CDBG funds for small business development or revitalization.
  • CODE ENFORCEMENT - Continue to target the neighborhood for all code violations and maintain the rental inspection program on designated properties.
The map showing the focus area of the Hurt Park Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative is available for your convenience.

Concentrating the Effort in Hurt Park

Hurt Park contains many hundreds of residential, commercial and public-use parcels. The available resources cannot encompass all the improvements that would be desirable. By focusing the effort, more visible changes can be created, building more excitement and, hopefully, attracting additional private investment. The City has visualized a main focus area starting on Salem Avenue in the vicinity of the Housing Authority’s housing redevelopment and sweeping south and east, through Rorer Avenue to the commercial node at Patterson Avenue and 13th Street. Activities have also been concentrated in the area in and around 13th Street and Salem Avenue.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area (NRSA) Plan

The development of the Hurt Park Neighborhood Revitalizaiton Strategy Area plan for the Hurt Park community provides a unique opportunity to promote the long-term strength and stability of an older neighborhood of Roanoke with residential, commercial, industrial and historical uses. This plan identifies strategies to revitalize Hurt Park which include increasing the homeownership rate through rehabilitation and new construction, rehabilitating owner-occupied housing, enhancing neighborhood business opportunities, and promoting employment opportunities. In coordination with the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA), the City of Roanoke continues to forge a partnership with businesses, community groups, and residents to address community revitalization through a comprehensive strategy.

The elements of this plan include:
  • Boundaries – The boundaries of the designated area.
  • Demographic Criteria – The demographic characteristics of the area (statistics about the residents of the community).
  • Consultation – The consultative approach to the community stakeholders (input from the residents, business owners, nonprofit organizations, community groups and churches located in the designated area).
  • Assessment – An assessment of the economic conditions of the area and the opportunities for economic development.
  • Economic Empowerment – The plan to create meaningful jobs for low- and moderate-income persons of the area.
  • Performance Measurements – The plan to identify progress that is readily measurable.
Although the strategies presented in this plan will ultimately generate a number of important benefits for the community, the NRSA plan will enable the City of Roanoke to implement a mixed-income development strategy for the community while providing certain flexibility in the use of CDBG-funded business development assistance. CDBG funds for affordable housing development have traditionally benefited only low-income families. The NRSA plan will allow the City of Roanoke to reconstruct or rehabilitate and market housing in the Hurt Park Neighborhood to individuals and families of a diverse range of income levels, thereby creating a broader income base in the community.

The CDBG funds that, along with HOME funds, form the core resources for the efforts in Hurt Park have a number of limitations imposed by law. Some flexibility in these limitations, especially in the area of housing, has been obtained by preparing a Hurt Park Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area (NRSA) plan Hurt Park (NRSA) Plan and receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the source of the federal funds. Housing and other benefits can be made available to a broader income range of households, which helps to diversify and strengthen the community.

The NRSA essentially draws on information from the City-Council-approved Neighborhood Plan about the history, demographics and needs of the area and identifies the revitalization activities planned according to HUD’s NRSA guidelines, setting benchmarks for monitoring performance. The flexibility offered by an approved NRSA can be withdrawn by HUD if satisfactory progress is not maintained toward meeting the benchmarks.

Over the life of the project there will be continued consultation with the neighborhood regarding the activities and implementation of the NRSA.