In 2014, DHIC purchased from foreclosure Washington Terrace – an aging 23-acre, 245- unit, low-income housing project in the heart of east Raleigh’s historic African-American community. Originally built in 1950, Washington Terrace is known as the first rental community built for African-American professionals and represents the origins of many local public figures and leaders. Over the years it has retained a strong sense of community. Today, more than 70% of residents at Washington Terrace and in the surrounding neighborhood are African American, many of them long-time residents who cherish the rich history and culture of the neighborhood.
However, because of its close proximity to popular downtown, where rents and housing prices are on the rise, the residents of Washington Terrace and the surrounding neighborhoods feared that displacement would soon follow, and they did not trust that they would have a voice in the redevelopment process.
DHIC recognized that the key to building trust with the residents and neighbors would be active and authentic community engagement. “The people of this community must have a strong voice in this process. It is about tapping into the considerable knowledge, insight and needs of individuals and families who are traditionally overlooked, but who stand to gain the most from an authentic process that includes them,” said Yvette Holmes, VP of Resource Development & Partnerships, DHIC.
DHIC organized a master planning team made up of project managers, resident services staff, an experienced urban design firm, City planners, and a respected communications consultant who grew up in the neighborhood to develop and implement a highly-engaged community input process for the master planning of Washington Terrace. The process included continuous communications and deep relationship-building with residents of Washington Terrace, neighbors from surrounding communities, anchor institutions and community stakeholders such as St. Augustine’s University (an HBCU), the YMCA, and the Boys and Girls Club.
More than 350 residents, civic and non-profit leaders, and other stakeholders participated in this process, which included a number of public meetings, design charrettes, drop-in sessions, one-on-one stakeholder meetings, peer-to-peer meetings, and resident-only information sessions. Voices were heard. Concerns were addressed. Suggestions were taken into account.
Result of Master Planning Process
After a year-long process, the master plan for the redevelopment of Washington Terrace was vetted to the public in December, 2015, and it received an enthusiastic nod of approval from the Washington Terrace community. Phase I will result in 162 apartments for families, a new community center with a children’s play area and recreation space, a community garden, and a child care center. Many residents asked for other amenities such as washer/dryer hook-ups, energy-efficient appliances, and better street lighting, which have been included in the building plans. This initial phase of new construction was named The Village at Washington Terrace by popular vote at one of the public planning meetings held in 2015.
DHIC is now in the process of planning and is seeking financing for Phase II of this development, which will include 72 units of affordable seniors housing. Other phases are envisioned to include homes for sale, and DHIC plans to implement a pilot financial capability workshop series in the neighborhood to build a local pipeline of mortgage-ready families who want to extend their roots in the community.
The civic engaged master planning process was generously supported with grant of $150,000 from the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, which invests in distressed areas to help stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods, and a $35,000 grant from Enterprise Community Partners, awarded to explore and incorporate green design principles and best practices in the master plan for redevelopment.
The City of Raleigh is also a key partner, initially providing a $2.1 million loan to assist DHIC in purchasing the property. The City will participate in planning to encourage diverse housing options link to high-impact community services.
For More Information
Call (919) 832-4345 ext. 3031 or email us.