With a batch of for-sale homes adding to the mix, the transformation of the former Armstrong High School site into a mixed-income housing community is entering the homestretch.
A ceremony on Friday marked the start of construction of a 36-home section at Armstrong Renaissance, the massive redevelopment of the 22-acre site along North 31st Street in Richmond’s East End.
Called North Hills at Armstrong Renaissance, the section of for-sale attached and detached homes represents the final phase of the 256-unit development, along with a 45-unit apartment building also under construction on the site just south of Nine Mile Road.
The new buildings will add to hundreds of homes already built at the development, which is planned to total 130 income-based rental units, 90 apartments for seniors, and the 36 for-sale homes for both lower-income and market-rate buyers.
Ranging from about 1,700 to 2,100 square feet, the three- and four-bedroom homes will be priced between $225,000 and $350,000, with eight of the homes set aside for first-time buyers who are eligible to receive up to $15,000 in down payment assistance.
Icon Realty Group is handling sales along with developer Better Housing Coalition. Eagle Construction of VA is building the homes, which are designed by Ridge Point Real Estate, a local firm led by Chris Jefferson. Timmons Group is handling engineering services.
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development supplied funding for the section, which has a total project cost of $9.6 million. The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the City of Richmond helped acquire the lots.
The RRHA is co-developing Armstrong Renaissance with The Community Builders, a Boston-based nonprofit .
Once completed, the new homes and neighboring apartments will finish out Armstrong Renaissance, which is part of a larger revitalization of the nearby Creighton Court and surrounding area.
Overall, $100 million in improvements are planned for the former school site and 30-acre public housing complex, where a one-for-one replacement of 504 units is underway with plans for 1,000 new homes for lower-income residents.
Several Creighton Court residents have moved to Armstrong Renaissance, while others will have options to stay in newer units in Creighton Court or move to another housing complex using project- or tenant-based vouchers. The RRHA has said residents will not be forcibly displaced and units will be made available before current occupancies end.
At Friday’s ceremony, Cynthia Newbille — who falls into several of those categories as an East End native, Armstrong grad and now president of the Richmond City Council — described the new homes as continuing the legacy of her alma mater, which was built in 1952.
“This site, for me, was my educational home,” Newbille told a gathering of stakeholders and supporters. “I proudly attended and graduated from this educational home, which encouraged and supported all of its youth in our movement to economic self-sufficiency and success.
“Now, almost 70 years later, this same site again is providing a home, except this time, a physical home that certainly honors the history of this site and provides an incredible resource in terms of greatly needed housing opportunities.”
Other speakers in the ceremony included Better Housing CEO Greta Harris and board Chairman R. Wheatley McDowell; RRHA interim CEO Stacey Daniels-Fayson; Community Builders VP Juan Powell; and Lincoln Saunders, acting chief administrative officer for the City of Richmond and chief of staff to Mayor Levar Stoney.