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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, October 9, 2020

Westside Evolves process begins


Eight-decade old community begins planning for the future



Chattanooga Design Studio is preparing to reimagine the future of the Westside District. - Image provided

Chattanooga Design Studio is organizing a planning process to reimagine the future of the Westside District, an 80-year-old community that includes a mix of primarily subsidized housing with over 2,000 residents.

Dating back to 1940, College Hill Courts is Chattanooga’s oldest and largest public housing community. Through the years, Boynton Terrace Apartments, Gateway Towers and Dogwood Manor were built, doubling the number of public housing units in the Westside District.

A study will encompass the area between U.S. 27, Riverfront Parkway, MLK Boulevard and Main Street.

The effort will help the community create plans and identify strategies to preserve the number of subsidized residential units while pinpointing opportunities for market rate housing.

Chattanooga Housing Authority Executive Director Betsy McCright says, “We recognize that CHA’s role is to preserve and expand affordable housing opportunities in our community. The planning process should therefore identify a strategy that supports a one-for-one replacement of subsidized housing units in this district.

“This particular place in our city holds significant potential for residents who require access to jobs, education and services.”

Chattanooga Design Studio has engaged EJP Consulting Group to facilitate the nine-month planning process. EJP has national experience in public housing revitalization planning and development.

A diverse selection committee formed from members of a larger community advisory group chose EJP to consult on the project.

College Hill Courts resident Sharon Dragg says, “The EJP team was my top choice because they said they want to help us gather our community’s input and vision. We will be going door-to-door with surveys and scheduling community workshops. We want to see what people know and hear their history in the Westside community.”

Charlie Newton, who has been educating youth through the Splash Youth Arts program for close to a decade in the Westside District has been engaged as an artist-in-residence to capture the planning process. He notes, “I would not be involved in this project if I didn’t think we were going to make history.”

Eric Myers, executive director of the Chattanooga Design Studio, says, “The Westside community faces historic challenges, many stemming from the origin of its development. We will work with residents and stakeholders to organize a process that will create clear and measurable housing goals the neighborhood, CHA and other partners can implement.”

Information

Source: Chattanooga Design Studio