North Carolina Construction News staff writer
A ground-breaking ceremony in Winston Salem has launched construction on the Choice Neighborhoods initiative, a project that is expected to bring affordable housing to areas in the city with the highest identified need.
In 2019, the City of Winston-Salem was awarded a $30 million Choice Neighborhood implementation grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It is designed to help replace outdated public housing units with mixed housing and single-family homes. Over the next four years the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is expected to build more than 400 units of affordable housing to the northeast and east wards.
While most of the grant will be used to revitalize housing and living conditions in the Cleveland Avenue neighborhood, Phase 1 will focus on the site of the former Brown Elementary School, located at the corner of Highland Avenue and Eleventh Street. Phase 1 will include 81 townhomes and apartments with a mix of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Kevin Cheshire, executive director of HAWS, noted that it has been almost exactly eight years to the day that HAWS purchased the old Brown Elementary property from Shiloh Baptist Church. Two years later, the structure was damaged in a fire.
“I remember standing right over there and watching the fire smolder and wondering if anything would ever rise from those ashes and today answer that question with a resounding yes,” Cheshire said.
“This targeted redevelopment is part of a comprehensive plan to transform a community by investing in the people who live in that community and in the neighborhood which surrounds it, not just the housing,” Cheshire said. “If we don’t get the investment in our people, and if we don’t get the investment in the surrounding neighborhood, and if we’re not fully committed to that, all this is expensive housing. This project has to be transformational.”
Leasing opportunity for CNI is expected to begin in early 2024.