Raleigh seeks to revive two decrepit neighborhoods
Posted August 10, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Officials hope an eight-year effort using both public and private resources will rebuild the foundation of two decaying neighborhoods east of downtown Raleigh.
The Washington Terrace and College Park areas near Saint Augustine's University are home to a high poverty rate, crumbling homes and crime, city officials say. Raleigh officials have bought up many abandoned homes in the area over the last decade and razed them to prevent them from becoming havens for drug deals.
Now, city leaders are partnering with a nonprofit to take a revitalization effort to the next level. The plan is expected to bring mixed-income housing to the area by 2024, including new affordable housing and renovated older homes.
"We’re trying to focus, essentially like a laser beam, on this particular neighborhood for the next eight years," said Shawn McNamara, Raleigh's community development program manager.
McNamara said the effort will go beyond housing to include job training and other services. Construction itself could bring hundreds of jobs to the area, where 47 percent of families live below the poverty line and the unemployment rate is 2.5 times the city average.
"Our intent, for a large part of the neighborhood, is to stress helping them stay in their houses and fix up the house they occupy now," he said. "We’re at the point where we are the major land owner. We want to give the neighbors a chance to influence what will happen."
Willie Stokes has lived in College Park for more than a decade and has seen its struggles, but he said residents have heard few details about Raleigh's plans for their neighborhood.
"Some people have lived here all their lives, and they’re concerned about what’s going to happen," Stokes said. "They were saying a lot of good things about what they want to do, but they weren't saying what was going to happen to the residents who live there now. They say, 'You can move back in,' but at what price?"
The City Council will hold a public hearing on the plan on Sept. 1 before voting on whether to proceed. If approved, the revitalization would start next year.