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Demolition of Tidewater Gardens neighborhood continues in Norfolk

Tidewater Gardens demolition
Posted at 3:28 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 17:41:38-04

NORFOLK, Va. - At the corner of Fenchurch and Charlotte Streets, the public housing is coming down.

The units are the latest to be torn down, with 16 buildings scheduled to be demolished by the fall. It's part of the city's efforts to redevelop the St. Paul's area with the demolition of three public housing neighborhoods, including Tidewater Gardens.

Neighbors living nearby have been given notices that they have to move.

"I'm actually kind of excited and looking forward to moving out of here. It's not a bad neighborhood. I haven't had any problems, but it wasn't a place I was planning to stay forever," said Monique Aguilar, who said she's using a voucher to move to another community.

Others have been upset about the project. There's been pushback and protests, including a federal lawsuit. Still, the city is moving forward with the project, and on Tuesday morning housing officials provided an update on the Tidewater Gardens part of it.

The developer, Brinshore Development LLC, showed renderings of what the area will one day look like with mixed-income development.

"That's what we're really trying to get at - something for everyone," said John Majors from Brinshore.

The project is going to take years and includes road and infrastructure improvements to address issues like flooding.

"We have to do more than just build buildings, right? They have to be part of this neighborhood network that supports the housing and creates a foundation for health and relationships," said Susan Perry, the director of the St. Paul's Transformation Office.

The city has been using a program called People First to help neighbors find new homes either through vouchers, moving to other public housing or staying in a different part of the area. Demolition is happening in phases.

Housing officials say more than 90% of the neighbors in Tidewater Gardens are utilizing the People First program.

"I think we have a holistic approach to addressing the concerns that they have and making them feel a little bit better in the process," said Donna Mills from the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority.