RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–The city demolished the Dove Court public housing projects several years ago as part of its Master Plan to redevelop the area—once a haven for crime– in Highland Park and Barton Heights neighborhoods.
In Highland Park, a fence surrounds an empty lot slated for affordable homes and a state of the art school.
“Considering what was here before, you’re looking at that to be a plus,” said Raymond Turner.
After years of planning and discussion, the project is starting to move forward. Another change is happening along with the $100 million dollar investment for the city; transforming the Dove Court Armory into a recreation center for neighborhood kids.
“If you’re putting families here and you have nothing for them to do,” said Turner, “you also have a problem.”
“We know it’s for people that are trying to do positive and I don’t think that people trying to look for trouble want to go there,” said Louis Bailey.
The city administration is working with the Richmond Raiders and the Police Athletic League to provide mentoring, after school and summer environmental programs. Over time, you’ll see nature labs and expanded bike trails.
Revitalizing this area will mean something else to residents.
“People around here need jobs when they start doing that it could put some people in this community to work like me and other people around here,” said Bailey.
The original plan called for tearing down the armory for single family homes.
“Frequently, they need an anchor to encourage people to move into these communities,
said City Council Vice President Ellen Robertson represents the district.
“Richmond Raiders want to stay to stay in the City of Richmond,” she said. “This facility, the armory is a wonderful place that has served as a place as a practice for them.”
And a bright future for others.
“This is my grand kid right here,” said Bailey, “and this is his future. ”
Robertson said they’re planning to break ground on the multimillion dollar project later this month. It’s slated to be completed in six years.