CPDC, Richmond Leaders Embark Upon Broad Six Points Revitalization Effort
“Highland Park Senior Apartments is the beginning of a larger effort. It opens up the floodgate of opportunity for huge economic development in the community.” ~Councilwoman Ellen Robertson
By: Trevor Smith
When CPDC purchased the 122,200 square-foot former school out of foreclosure in November 2013, the organization saw more than an abandoned building—rather a great opportunity to restore a historic structure and long-time community symbol for use by local residents as quality, affordable apartments. What the CPDC team also saw was potential to be a catalyst for community development in an area of Richmond with an aging population and many unmet needs.
As a community developer, CPDC realizes a ‘home’ is more than a four-walled structure. It’s more than shelter. ‘Home’ is where meals are shared, and accomplishments celebrated. It’s the place memories are made.
But housing itself is only a first step. CPDC has a proven 25-year track record of demonstrating a long-term commitment to its developments and the ability to operate communities that are sustainable, affordable and that create positive outcomes for residents.
Our approach in Richmond will be the same. As a community developer, our goal is to partner with, positively impact and be a catalyst for the evolution of the Six Points community—beyond our properties.
With construction soon to begin on Highland Park Senior Apartments, we have started working with local organizations and community leaders on a broad community development and revitalization effort of Six Points and its commercial corridor. Partners include Boaz and Ruth, Northside Outreach Center, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Storefront for Community Design and Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, who lives in the Six Points neighborhood and is leading the revitalization effort.
We recently further solidified our long-term commitment to development in the region with the opening of a Richmond office. Real estate and community development staff are now on the ground and working to gauge the community’s needs.
“For the past several months I’ve been out in the neighborhood… not talking, but listening to what residents would like to see happen,” said Robert Johns, CPDC Community Development Director. “It’s one thing to build and develop in a community—but when you don’t live there, you can’t dictate things. Residents will have a strong say in all matters.”
CPDC is also planning to engage local residents regarding potential uses for the recently acquired Nehemiah Center, a currently vacant church located near the Highland Park community. A series of community sessions have been scheduled and are intended to be an open discussion on major issues in the surrounding neighborhood and how they may be addressed. In addition to forums, CPDC will survey future Highland Park residents about needs.
Examples of programs that have been highly successful in other CPDC senior communities and are options to be implemented at Highland Park or as services at the commercial site include: healthy lifestyle workshops, cooking classes, community gardens, exercise classes for older adults, healthy snacks and meal planning tips for residents, recreation and activities and free dental screenings and blood pressure readings. Programs and partnerships that offer seniors much needed access to healthcare, safe transportation and nutritious foods are also likely.
“We want to set the example for how senior housing should look. We’re doing independent housing that’s affordable and supportive so that people can continue to live in our properties throughout their lives,” said Dr. Karon Phillips, CPDC Senior Regional Resident Services Manager. “We have many in our senior properties that are aging in place, and some seniors have been on our properties for decades. Our elder residents should know they have a home they can live in forever, and these services and amenities let them know they are not forgotten, but appreciated.”