In the first five months since its creation, Mayor L. Douglas Wilder’s Interagency Task Force on Community Infrastructure made significant progress in developing innovative, broad-based initiatives that will offer greater flexibility for future neighborhood growth and the location of business in the city of Richmond, VA (pop. est. 197, 790).
These initiatives, such as streamlining the city’s permit/inspection process and offering developer incentives to build mixed-income housing, will help to advance the mayor's vision for creating new mixed-use neighborhoods that help to deconcentrate poverty.
“If we are to create communities of hope and opportunity for all our citizens, we must displace poverty with economic opportunity,” said the mayor. “We must eliminate substandard housing and in its place, develop quality housing in mixed use." Since its first meeting in early February, the task force has focused on five specific goals intended to facilitate more flourishing communities:
- Streamlining of the city’s permit and inspection processes;
- Creation of two mixed-use zoning districts;
- Development of an Affordable Dwelling Unit ordinance;
- Creation of a local affordable housing fund to assist low and middle-income residents; and
- Coordination of a mixed-use, mixed-income model community project that involves collaborative efforts of the city, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, private developers, and non-profit housing providers.
Completing an analysis of current permit and inspection processes, the Task Force recommended several streamlining measures to enhance the customer experience. The Task Force also developed new zoning districts (R-63 Multi-Family Residential District and B-6 Mixed Use Business District) to allow for a broader mix of residential and commercial uses to encourage neighborhood development. Earlier this month, the Planning Commission indicated its intent to approve these new zoning districts.
The Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance, currently being drafted, will encourage developers to make a certain percentage of their real estate projects available to low- and moderate-income residents. Action by the General Assembly may be required so that Richmond can implement its ADU ordinance.
An Affordable Housing Trust Fund program will enable the city to pursue additional funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia if the 2007 General Assembly session passes legislation to establish this entity. Similar legislation failed during the 2006 session.
Criteria and guidelines for the local Trust Fund are to be completed later this year. In addition to potential state funding, local monies could be directed for this purpose.
Jackson Place, an area of Jackson Ward bound by First, Third and Jackson Streets and Interstate 95, has been identified by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority as the appropriate site for a mixed-use, mixed-income model community project. The Authority issued a Request For Proposals last week to solicit developers to redevelop that area.
The Task Force includes representation from several city departments as well as RRHA, the Richmond City Council, the Richmond School Board and the private and non-profit sectors.
Commenting on the work of the Task Force, the mayor said, “Bringing together city staff from multiple agencies, staff of the RRHA, and citizens who are leading experts in community development has paid tremendous dividends. The Task Force is taking a comprehensive look at some complex, multi-faceted problems and is making tangible recommendations to bring solutions to these challenges.”
For more information, visit www.ci.richmond.va.us.