November 24, 2020

Grand Opening of $30 Million Community in Jackson Ward

Enterprise Community Development was recently joined by partners to celebrate – socially distanced and with masks on – the grand opening of a $30 million mixed-income and mixed-use development in the National Historic Landmark neighborhood of Jackson Ward in Richmond, Virginia.

The project draws inspiration from the rich neighborhood of Jackson Ward, listed as a National Historic Landmark District in 1978. During the early 20th Century, Jackson Ward was the region's epicenter of Black banking and commerce and has been referred to as "Black Wall Street," much like a similar thriving business community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The area was also home to many theatres, jazz clubs, churches, schools and other institutions that were central to life in this vibrant community leading it to also be known as the “Harlem of the South.”

The Rosa, a four-story building, provides 72 homes for low-income seniors, and is named after renowned local educator Rosa Dixon Bowser, the first Black teacher hired in Richmond and who helped create Virginia's first professional African American teachers association.

The adjacent Van de Vyver Apartment Homes features 82 mixed-income apartments, including 36 affordable homes designated for workforce housing and is named after the school for predominantly African Americans that was once on the site.

Although primarily new construction, the project also included the adaptive reuse of an historic convent into eight of the multifamily units, as well as the preservation of a garden established by the Catholic Diocese to commemorate the former site of St Joseph’s Catholic Church, believed to be the first Catholic congregation for African Americans in the South. The complex also features 6,000 square feet of much-needed retail space. This project not only redevelops a site that was once a center of African American commerce, it re-knits a portion of the neighborhood that was scarred by the mid-century construction of Interstates 95 and 64. 

All residents of The Rosa are previous residents of the aging, isolated Fay Towers, a 200-home senior community built in 1976.

The ribbon cutting of The Rosa marks the completion of the second phase in a three-part process of enabling Fay Towers residents to move into new, modern homes. The three-phase redevelopment, executed in partnership with the RRHA, is one of the first projects in the country to use HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD)’s “transfer of assistance” provision for off-site relocation. The first stage of the process was completed in 2016, when 77 seniors moved into the former Highland Park Public School, which ECD fully renovated. The final phase, currently under construction, is the adaptive reuse of the former Baker School into 50 additional homes, with an expected completion of early summer 2021.

Both communities offer amenities including fitness centers, business centers, community/multimedia rooms, lounges, and outdoor patios. Additionally, ECD’s resident services team, Community Impact Strategies, is working with the senior residents at The Rosa in areas such as personal finance, nutrition, health and safety.

Both are pet-friendly with the Van de Vyver also offering a dog wash station. The building also features indoor bike storage and high-speed internet in common areas while The Rosa offers an arts and crafts center. The Rosa was built to Earthcraft Platinum standards, the highest level of certification available under Earthcraft.

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