RICHMOND, Va. -- New. Vibrant. Thriving and diverse. That’s how Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, city leaders, and residents described the new Armstrong Renaissance mixed-use complex in Church Hill.
"Today I can proudly say that Armstrong Renaissance is a community of opportunity and a model for affordable housing development in our city moving forward," Stoney said.
Two hundred fifty-six units will be done in five phases. A project pulling in neighbors from nearby Creighton Court.
So far, more than 30 of those families have relocated there.
Caroline Hayes and Marilyn Olds, both former Creighton Court tenants, told a socially-distanced crowd during Tuesday’s ribbon cutting how living in their new homes has changed their lives, bringing them a peace they’ve sought for years.
"Could you imagine being afraid to get out of your car to go into your house at night? Look out the window. Do you hear the sounds of gunshots echoing in your home? Do you put your children in the bathtub? Sleep on the floor? Walk under the window because of the shootings where you live?" Olds asked.
"Moving from Creighton Court was a big change because of so much that was going on there. I think this is a good thing. They are trying to make things better for people like me," Hayes added.
The project is made possible through a public-private partnership. The name gives a nod to the history and legacy of the former Armstrong High School that once stood at the site. It's bringing a new beginning to families.
“For us, it’s about the people. The seniors who can now sit on their porches and watch children play, the students who can walk to school. The heartbeat. The souls of this community," Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) Interim CEO Stacy Daniels-Fayson said.
"I thank you for the cake. Can’t wait for the icing. I’m telling you guys, I thank you, and when you finish across the street, that’s the icing," Olds said, pointing to the Creighton Court public housing complex nearby.
City leaders called the North Church Hill development just the beginning.
Two other phases, which include rental housing, are underway now.
Seventy units are under construction and a phase with 45 senior units will start in March. Thirty-six homes will also be built on-site at the beginning of 2021.