Upcoming initiatives in Newport News’ Marshall-Ridley neighborhood transformation efforts may include a seafood market, commercial kitchen and funds to help homeowners spruce up their properties to go along with new apartments and replacement of Ridley Circle apartments.
As officials reviewed building plans and progress, they expressed several times they needed to focus on the residents of the neighborhood.
The City Council held a work session Sept. 15 to discuss the Choice Neighborhood Initiative.
Ricky Burgess, a city councilman in Pittsburgh, advised the Newport News council to remember “(this) process is not primarily about housing — this is about transforming families and helping families so they have a greater chance at success.” Along with housing, Burgess, who helped lead choice neighborhood transformation efforts in Pittsburgh, said new construction there involved community and resource centers, access to transportation and a new charter school.
The council agreed that the focus is not just on transforming the physical community, but the lives of the people there.
“We need total commitment to make this a reality,” Mayor McKinley Price said. He said the city needed to commit through its actions and its budget so that five years from now, they aren’t looking at a new neighborhood with the same issues that have lingered for decades. That would be a waste of time and money, he said.
The Marshall-Ridley Choice Neighborhood encompasses the Ridley Place and Marshall Courts public housing and much of the surrounding neighborhood. The area has higher rates of poverty and unemployment than the rest of the city.
The Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority is relocating residents from Ridley Place in preparation of the apartments being torn down and eventually replaced. She said 150 households have vouchers and more than 100 have moved or have new housing in place. The neighborhood has