A Master Plan Vision
for a Resilient Future
The Master Plan vision for the new St. Paul’s Area was developed through years of planning by engaged residents, businesses, church and community leaders, and dozens of interested stakeholders. The guiding principles they developed reimagine the area as a resilient Norfolk community of the future while addressing decades of poverty and flooding.
Under a multi-million-dollar federal grant and an inclusive subcontracting policy, an expert team of architects, engineers and developers has designed a vibrant, mixed-income community that connects people and opportunity, eliminates decades of flooding, and continues the redevelopment of downtown Norfolk.
Focus on Tidewater Gardens
The St. Paul’s area has the region’s highest concentration of poverty and features three obsolete, 1950s-era public-housing communities, including Tidewater Gardens with 618 apartments. This neighborhood experiences pervasive flooding, given an aged infrastructure system in need of replacement. The apartments are physically isolated, lack some basic amenities, and do not present a community of opportunity despite their location next to downtown.
Beginning in 2005, Norfolk began to reimagine Tidewater Gardens as a mixed-income, mixed-use community where families and residents from all income levels, races, ages and cultures can live, learn, work, play and thrive. The City also committed to providing supportive services to residents, services that focus on access to quality jobs, education, childcare, health care, and similar foundations of social and economic vitality. Ensuring positive outcomes for resident families is essential to the plan’s success.
Since the development of the St. Paul’s Quadrant Plan in 2005, the City of Norfolk and the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority have sponsored hundreds of hours of community meetings, focus groups and events to gather local residents’ input about the redevelopment of Tidewater Gardens. These efforts were heightened after the City received a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) implementation grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the express purpose of deconcentrating high incidences of poverty in targeted communities, and creating mixed-income neighborhoods where everyone can thrive.
Good news about the grant set a number of processes in motion. Among them:
- The St. Paul’s Advisory Council was formed to provide leadership and guidance for the redevelopment.
- Brinshore Development was selected as the lead developer for the transformation project.
- Community-engagement and resident design sessions for the redevelopment were held.
- A new “blue/greenway” resilient park to manage area flooding was incorporated into the master plan, as was a plan for locating houses to avoid historical creek beds.
- A “main street” plan ensured the revitalization of Church Street, a historic African American commercial corridor, as the heart of a vibrant community.
- A “greener,” traditional street grid pattern was designed to create meaningful connections through a pattern of neighborhood blocks and streets that make the community walkable and bikeable via a set of trails.
- Road extensions and additional connections north, south, east and west were set to reconnect the isolated community to the rest of the City.
- The neighborhood was destined to be a mixed-income, mixed-use community with a diversity of housing types for all ages and stages of life.
Other design goals and features
The community-generated vision for St. Paul’s includes other features that will offer an active, healthy, opportunity-filled lifestyle for all:
- New carriage homes, town homes, multi-family and mansion apartments
- New retail and office space
- 26-acre recreational park
- Innovative tidal and stormwater control
- Blueways, greenways and natural areas
- Historical and cultural exhibits
- Community event and gathering spaces
- Public art installations
The transformation of Tidewater Gardens is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2025.