The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem has won a $30 million revitalization grant designed to bring improvements to an area in eastern Winston-Salem stretching from 25th Street to the Innovation Quarter downtown.

It was the fourth time that HAWS had sought the Choice Neighborhoods grant for the area, and Kevin Cheshire, the chief executive of HAWS, said his feelings were those of "absolute elation" on learning the news on Thursday.

The grant was announced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Choice Neighborhoods is a grant program that takes a comprehensive approach to neighborhood revitalization by emphasizing education, health and employment in addition to housing.

"The timing is great," Cheshire said. "We could all use some good news. It is something we have pursued for a long time."

A key part of the plan will be the replacement of 244 apartments in the aging Cleveland Avenue Homes public housing project with 406 new mixed-income units.

The public housing residents in the area will also be supported with educational opportunities, employment programs and a network of medical providers.

The transformation area is bounded on the west by Patterson Avenue, and extends to the east over U.S. 52 to to an irregular eastern boundary that follows parts of Jackson Avenue in the northeast, narrowing to File Street and Cleveland Avenue in the vicinity of Third Street.

The grant description calls the effort one that can "reconnect a community that was artificially divided by urban renewal programs, highway building, and systematic racial and economic segregation."

Including the Innovation Quarter in the plan puts a focus on finding a way to bridge the gap between that area and the struggling neighborhoods to the east and north that the plan is intended to help.

"Part of that vision is to cross over 52, to reestablish some of those historic connections," Cheshire said. 

The grant coins a new term, "Newside," for the redevelopment area, a term Cheshire called a sort of acronym based on the term "North East Winston-Salem Transformation Plan" contained in the grant.

According to the plan, the new 406 units of housing will include 199 units of replacement public housing, 86 units of "workforce" housing, meant for working people of limited means, and 122 units of market-rate housing.

Cheshire said that while there will be 45 fewer units of public housing in the neighborhood, those people will be helped by housing choice vouchers that they can use anywhere.

"If you are providing affordable housing, it is affordable housing whether it is in the public or private market," Cheshire said, adding that the numbers had to be done in a way that makes the project work.

"You are trying to assure an appropriate mix that includes mixed-income housing in order to de-concentrate public housing," Cheshire said.

Along with the new housing, the redeveloped Cleveland Avenue Homes property will have a clubhouse, a fitness room, a business center, a small park, playgrounds and a large central park.

The first units will be built on vacant land, so that a "build first" approach minimizes the disruption of relocation.

The core of the redevelopment is in Winston-Salem Council Member Vivian Burke's Northeast Ward, although the plan area extends south into Annette Scippio's East Ward.

"I think it is wonderful," Burke said, crediting Assistant City Manager Tasha Ford with her work on the project. "I am grateful to God that this will soon be, because the citizens have endured more than most citizens could take."

Scippio said that while most of the grant spending will be outside her ward, the plan's extension into East Ward fits nicely with the East End Master Plan that has been developed for the area to the south and west of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

"Any betterment in the neighborhood is going to help everyone," Scippio said, noting that the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are working on a new Ashley School for the area.

The plan notes that the North Liberty Street corridor, a commercial area, will be revitalized as a core pathway through the area. The schools and public library system will help with literacy and education support.



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