Payton said the new design “flips that old pattern on its
head and makes the new development an extension of
San Francisco’s existing street network. The new housing
will fill in some of the existing blocks and look like just
normal buildings that you’d find anywhere in San Fran.
“You won’t be able to distinguish in any way that this is
affordable housing. There is also a big central park planned
for this quadrant and that will help frame this development. Later, market-rate housing will do the same.”
Payton said he likes the CNI philosophy because “it’s a
way that HUD is supporting the reanimation and revitalization of certain urban areas that have been neglected
over the years — sometimes unintentionally, sometimes
intentionally. It does this in a way that supports public housing for folks who need it, but at the same time
puts that housing in an environment that is mixed with
other people so the poor aren’t concentrated in one area.
I think that’s a better way to rebuild parts of a city from
a social point of view.
“This is good because it goes beyond HOPE VI. It’s
concerned with more than just the ‘bricks and sticks’
component. It seeks to create partnerships with other elements of the community to improve education, policing,
economic activity, transportation and the like so that the
communities that are awarded funds really have to have
their acts together. They must have a far-reaching vision
CNI seeks to create partnerships with other elements of the community
to improve education, policing, economic activity and transportation.
and program to improve all those aspects of urban life.
That’s pretty healthy.
“What I don’t like is that there’s not enough money for
Choice Neighborhoods. The amount of need vs. the available funding. Simply put, we need a lot more.”
Milwaukee’s Westlawn public housing project is also
undergoing a major transformation. Located on 75 acres
on the northwest side of the city, the $82-million do-over
started six years ago with the demolition of nearly half
of 725 distressed, 1940s-style barracks. They have been
replaced with 250 units made up mostly of townhouses
and multifamily apartments that were built to LEED standards. The development also included a three-quarter-acre
community garden. The first half of the project was paid
for in part with a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation grant and opened in 2013 to positive reviews.
Bill Fears, a project manager for the Torti Gallas architectural firm — which designed the first half of the effort
— said the team redeveloping the second phase of Westlawn has received a $30-million CNI grant for what he
called “an almost identical product. Construction should
start next year. When finished, it will have a slightly higher
density of nearly 1,000 units.
“The biggest issue we had with this development was its
isolation from the rest of the community. We’ve reopened
four or five new connections into the neighborhood and
brought everything up to a similar housing type rather
than group-style barracks housing. We took it back to
townhouses and small apartment buildings, which is what
exists in the nearby neighborhood. So you get a continuity of type.”
Murphy Antoine, a partner with Torti Gallas, said his
company has been working with the housing authority
in Milwaukee since 2008. He’s seen the approach toward
redeveloping impoverished public housing projects evolve
with the implementation of Choice Neighborhoods.
“It goes beyond HOPE VI and includes things like having
a bigger impact outside the boundaries of the actual housing site. Unfortunately, resources aren’t there to do more
of it. There are three, maybe four neighborhood awards
given out every year and that is a drop in the bucket to
make a difference in the problem.” Photo by Paul Sableman