Three local leaders–a developer, civic league president, and business owner–share their vision for a Norfolk neighborhood on the rise.
Why We’re Excited About Park Place
As the saying goes, “vision is not seeing things as they are, but as they will be.”
When entering Park Place from downtown, 23rd street marks the proverbial “other side of the tracks.” But recently, Park Place has experienced some major rejuvenation that is changing its reputation.
Are the winds of change blowing? Maybe perception is starting to move. Below are three firsthand perspectives on why folks are excited about Park Place, written by people vested in the community. Each of these individuals, businesses, and events individually inject new life into the community. Together, their effect will be compound and enhance the neighborhood’s attractiveness. Park Place has yet to create a cohesive image to the outside world, but that will come. When will all of this happen? Hopefully soon. Will it make everyone happy? No, because it will change the face of the area; some people just don’t like change. But for most, it represents a welcomed opportunity for economic growth and prosperity.
Green Build It – Norfolk Based Residential Developer
A Sneak Preview of Not Your Usual House Tour 2.0
Cookie cutter homes, make room for green and modern. Green Build It, planted its roots a few years ago with a lofty mission: to build the first LEED certified house in Hampton Roads for under 125K in labor and materials. The goal was simple: learn and master the designs and techniques that will achieve high performance green building at prices the average American home buyer can afford, all the while promoting the value of good design. Our first project located at 1434 Lead St was a success. Located in the Bruce’s Park neighborhood of Norfolk, it became the first LEED certified home in Hampton Roads, achieving LEED Gold. The next two homes were built in Park Place on the corner of 30th and Colonial.
Friday April 22nd from 4:30pm to 7:30pm is your chance to check out the Park Place residences as the homeowners open their doors to the public. Below is a sneak preview of the tour or you can find out more by clicking on the Facebook event page. (Disclosure: The author of this feature is a primary in Green Build It.)
Green Build It presents Not Your Usual House Tour 2.0 where two of the coolest, greenest, most energy efficient homes in Hampton Roads opens their doors for Earth Day. Over 150 people attended in 2010 and this year promises to be even better. The tour showcases green, affordable, modern home design. Who says green-built homes have to be exorbitantly expensive? Who says narrow houses have to feel small? Who says buyers don’t care about design and sustainability? Green Build It defies these myths with their latest homes in Park Place. Hampton Roads has been on a tract home bender. The look is uninspiring and unsophisticated. As some like to say, mass produced tract homes are like fast food: cheap and easy but also unsatisfying and boring. The winds of change are blowing and you should check out the latest homes by Green Build It while DJ LRDMRCY and DJ OH!BOY spin musical delights.
Terez Patterson – Park Place Civic League President
Visioning Engagement Process Explained
When asked to explain and describe the Visioning and Engagement Process, I feel it may be easier to explain what it is not. Typically when there is an effort to revitalize a community, planning begins with the City, and involves very little resident participation. The focus tends to be on the weakest, or for instance, the most blighted parts of the community, then an effort is made to rehabilitate or “build up” the “eye sore.” The Visioning and Engagement Process is unique in every way to the traditional planning process. It is a resident-led process of community building and planning. At the core of the process is “community engagement” – which is a concerted effort to involve as many residents, and stakeholders in every aspect of the process.
With the guidance of consultant Charles Buki of CZB, the community body goes through a series of steps which include market and data collection, values assessment, and beautification projects. The information is then accumulated and assessed to develop a strategy, or a “neighborhood blue- print” for revitalization. The process exposes residents to elements of community planning and action processes that are built upon resident voices, resident leadership, and resident action. The process is not solely a plan for housing development, or infrastructure improvements. There is great emphasis on community building, skills and ideas sharing, and combining and using resources in the most effective and high impact way. It’s important to understand the VEP is not a “needs assessment.” Instead of focusing on weakness, and blight, the Process focuses on stabilizing the strongest part of the community, or “target zone,” which was determined by the market data that was collected. The strategy is the machine that will secure and bring greater stabilization to the target zone, and then mobilize that strength to the areas that are not “as stable.” By stabilization, I mean less crime, nuisances, and greater code compliance, but also greater community participation, building, and resident organized beautification projects.
I must admit, at first I was uneasy about the idea of focusing a great deal of time on stabilizing the strongest part of the community, where the homes are for the most part well maintained with well manicured lawns. The humanitarian in all of us easily wants to place our time and attention where there is need, not where there is strength. However, Charles Buki explained it to me perfectly. He said, “every doctor knows that you must maintain and stabilize the “vital organs” first, or you may lose the patient all together.”
Strengths instead of weakness; resident led instead of city led; this is the core of this unique, cutting edge process. This journey forces you to stretch your thinking, and makes you believe that impacting change can be accomplished when neighbors sit together at the kitchen table and begin to share their thoughts and ideas. There is something so appealing, inspiring and universal about the process, it’s common to have residents from other communities participate or just listen in – at our meetings. In Park Place we have already begun planning for upcoming beautification projects that will take place this summer.
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Phil Odango – Owner of Kerouac Café
Bringing New Life to 35th Street
Park Place is filled with stories, and the brick buildings that line 35th Street are the curator. The corridor has sung to me and I am heeding its call. Cosmic inspiration strikes at any moment, and it struck on Sat. Dec 4, 2010 at 12:05pm. I was stopped frozen in my tracks by the cascading church chimes that shook me to a primal level, spiritually jettisoning through a vibrant and uplifting age of music and possibility. I glimpsed the past and future merge into one. The chimes ended; I know why I’m here. The lease was signed on December 23, and the doors to Kerouac opened on February 14. History is now. God has led me to this place among all places in Norfolk to put down my easel and my art satchel, and listen. There, beneath the hum of the street. What is it telling you?
For me, I immediately sensed the texture of 35th. A pulsating beat beneath the grit and grime of recent history. The cascade of footsteps will echo through the corridor. Music enveloped in happy voices. A place where artists can park their supplies, listen to the sound the street and be inspired. Where neighbors can walk to the local bakery with a giant loaf sticking out of a paper bag, next to a bouquet of beautiful flowers from the florist. A place where you can smell life all around you, where you feel the spirit of co-creation permeate the sky. A wondrous uplifting feeling of promise and providence.
I am here to create art and Park Place and 35th Street has this open portal of creative inspiration unbendingly pouring into it, in addition to the well of history already there. Kerouac exists to encourage visionaries, artists and writers to tap into that inspired pool of creativity we call the universal consciousness. It is a good feeling; it is a clean feeling, and every artist who has come to work inside our studio space continually feels that this place is just right. It feels good. There is a spiritual goodness existing in 35th St and Park Place that is food and fuel for the artist’s soul. Whatever it is, we are grateful to continue to share that uplifting vision of vibrancy and life with all who come to share space with us. We will continue to make art here on 35th so long as the universe feels that it is right for us, and when it is time to go, we will pick up our easel and go wherever the spirit leads us. However, I have a profound feeling that we will be in 35th Street for a while, and we say thank you to all our neighbors and strangers who continue bring us stories that inspire. Providence has brought us here, and the promise of the uplifting spirit of cultivating creativity will hopefully keep us here.
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