Council to vote on contested rezoning issue in E. Winston

Council to vote on contested rezoning issue in E. Winston
April 30
00:00 2015
(Above: Photos by Erin Mizelle for the Winston-Salem Chronicle-  The current family shelter is located at the Salvation Army Center of Hope on Trade Street)

Two different agencies are hoping that the Winston-Salem City Council will vote Monday, May 4 in their favor when it comes to the property at 939 Cleveland Ave.

The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem’s (HAWS ) Board of Commissioners  voted to sign a petition of protest against the rezoning of the property at 939 Cleveland Ave. at a special meeting that was called on April 21. A petition of protest triggers a super majority of the City Council in order for the rezoning to pass, thus it would require six members to pass instead of five, the mayor would have to vote.

The petition could prevent The Salvation Army from purchasing the daycare building from Greater Cleveland Christian Church and turning it into an estimated 90-bed facility to house homeless individuals directly across from the Oaks at Tenth property.

“The reason that this building interests us is because it’s a place we have the money on hand to buy, it’s adequate for our needs because it has nine rooms already where we can have 12 people per room and it has a kitchen already in,” said Major James Allison. “Some of the folks in the neighborhood and Housing Authority think that it would deter the plan (Cleveland Avenue Initiative Masterplan) and the investors from coming and investing in the neighborhood. I don’t believe that would happen.”

The Salvation Army leased 901 Cleveland Ave. back in October with hopes to purchase the adjacent property in question. The goal is to relocate the nonprofit’s family shelter there. The purchase of the building would be temporary, although there is no current date as to when The Salvation Army would leave. The organization is hoping to raise funds to create a future building to hold its administrative offices, family shelter and emergency assistance offices.

“The Salvation Army is committed to serving homeless women and families. This is a great opportunity for us to continue to do all of that,” Allison said.” ‘We don’t plan to be there one day longer than we have to. It will take some time to build and hold the campaign, though.”

The organization said that the facility will provide better access to public transportation, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Mental Health.

Also, the organization touts the proximity to its administrative office as another reason to have its facility there.

“This gives us the ability to provide better services through those emergency facilities while they are staying with us,” Allison said. “They are all a straight shot from where the building would be. The icing on the cake would be the two lovely playgrounds for the children that are with us.”

Larry Woods, CEO of the HAWS, said that the petition is not against the agency but against having the shelter there.

“We believe that the shelter is not compatible with the long-term redevelopment of that area at this time,” he said. “We believe the Masterplan process is in the early stages and that a shelter coming in at this time could have a chilling effect on bringing in investors, including new homeowners.”

Woods said that this has not been an easy decision to come to but he said that he doesn’t want it to seem like the housing authority is blocking the agency.

“This is about the dreams and aspirations that this community has put forth, which we believe should be honored and maintained by both the county and the city. Changes to that plan should be a community decision with community input,” said Woods. “Having a group come in and make a request is not compatible with the plan. We just don’t think it’s a good thing.”

In November 2013, HAWS announced the opening of The Oaks at Tenth, housing exclusively for working public housing clients. The program is a part of the Housing Authority’s “Step Up” program that promotes self-sufficiency. Prior to admission and to continue occupancy, head of households will need to maintain a work schedule of at least 30 hours per week, except for those who are elderly or disabled. Tenants who are unable to maintain the work requirement over a period of time would still have the option of residing in more traditional affordable housing locations.

The complex is made up of one-, two- or three-bedroom apartments with single and multi-level floor plan options. The complex has 50 units with energy efficient appliances.

The location is considered the first phase of the Cleveland Avenue Initiative Masterplan. That plan was established to revitalize the surrounding 130-acre community as a mixed-use neighborhood. Per U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines, the plans are developed by local leaders, residents, stakeholders and private developers from the community.

Housing employees Kevin Cheshire, vice president and general counsel, and Troy Dehaven, director of real estate development, have been working with a community planning group to create that plan.

The agency received a $500,000 grant from HUD as a recipient of the 2013 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant to support the development of a comprehensive neighborhood Transformation Plan for Cleveland Avenue Homes, a traditional public housing community.

The program supports locally driven strategies to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation.

Chesire said The  Salvation Army approached the agency with  its intent.

“We discussed it internally in committee and with the full board, and determined that the use was contrary to what we’ve submitted and had endorsed by the planning board and City Council regarding the Masterplan. We told The Salvation Army that while we supported its mission, we would not be able to endorse the plan for a rezoning to use as a homeless shelter,” he said.

The rezoning has passed the planning board with a 7-2 vote.

A block away, construction vehicles are making way for another complex – Camden Station. Both projects are sandwiched between Cleveland Avenue Homes and Sunrise Towers, an aging high-rise for senior citizens and those with disabilities.

Combined, The Oaks at Tenth and Camden Station cost about $9 million – money that was mostly secured by the agency through bank loans.

Camden Station is a proposed 30-unit apartment community that will consist of 14 one-bedroom, 14 two-bedroom and 2 three-bedroom units, with private entrances.

Camden Station will be the second new apartment community by the Housing Authority in the Cleveland Avenue Initiative Masterplan area that is a part of the “Step Up” program.

Woods said that the revamping in the area has spurred other property owners into action.

One of those would be George Carr, the owner of Summit Square, who has written a letter to City Council opposing the rezoning.

“He has been motivated to redevelop and reinvest into his property with $1.5 million in renovations,” Woods said. “We are finding some single-family homes who are starting to invest into their homes.

“It is starting to do what we thought it would do, which is stimulate investment in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.”The Salvation Army, which has provided shelter for 108 years in the city, is the only provider of emergency housing for homeless families that usually consist of single-mothers and their children. Last month, the shelter provided over 900 nights of lodging to children under age 18, according to data from The Salvation Army.

Families that live in the shelter are offered three meals each day and essential services, such as transportation assistance, clothing and tutoring and homework help for children. Residents of the shelter are required to be in the building by 8:30 p.m. every day unless they are working, attending church or community meetings.

The agency would have to install showers in the rooms and a sprinkler system at 939 Cleveland Ave. before moving in, if approved. “At this point, we don’t have another option,” Allison said. “We found this and literally fell in love with it, putting our heart and soul into getting it. If this doesn’t end in our favor, we will not be angry at anyone at all. We will regroup and begin looking for somewhere to relocate our shelter.”

The City Council meeting Monday, will be at 7 p.m. at the City Hall building in Room 230. It  also can be viewed live online :

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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