Northside Community Update with Northside Development Group’s Michael Williamson and Tony Thomas

Northside Community Update with Northside Development Group’s Michael Williamson and Tony Thomas

Introduction video – https://vimeo.com/319348472

Presentation by Tony Thomas on the history of Northside and community involvement

Presentation by Michael Williamson on the Northside Development Group

https://vimeo.com/497352828

Q: Have you begun to see positive community indicators as a result of this project in terms of employment, education, health, or income?

A: Absolutely, through job referral program, construction pipeline, working with Access Health, just received community health assessment, moving in a positive direction.

Q: Great project! Curious how much public money has gone into these efforts (City funds, HUD funds, etc) and how much private investment that has leveraged?

A: About $25M in private funds invested, leveraging $125 total investment. Successful in getting three new markets tax credits and three low-income housing projects. Strong partnership with the City of Spartanburg and sources such as neighborhood initiation program, acquired and demolished property through that program. A few years ago, Ben Carson from HUD and Senator Tim Scott visited and said this is the largest project with public and private partnerships, which will be wave of the future.

Q: Has the county been involved?

A: The study area is within city limits, but adjacent to the county line. County has been supportive with logistics, supporting programs. Many great partners throughout both.

Q: Love it! Are their plans for a hotel/convention space?

Many hotels downtown nearby to come, and possibly adjacent in county. Focus is on residential and building up community.

Storytelling at the Artlets to engage larger Spartanburg community starting with the gateway art project. Festival in September.

Q: Do you find that some of the residents would want (& benefit from) other multi-modal routes for getting to work and other destinations?  If yes, what would they be?

A: Spartanburg has a new scooter program, there are bike rentals, and the neighborhood will connect to local trails. There is a bus route within the neighborhood, and yes, the plan is to increase mobility.

Q: Do you know the percentage of seniors in the Northside Community and do you have programs/development specific to senior needs?

A: 37-40%, and seniors supported with case management, homeowner assistance program, vaccine clinic, hiring a community health worker this year through a Duke Endowment grant.

Q: Where do you see NDG in ten years?

A: About five years of heavy redevelopment activity remaining, will shift to supportive entity providing services and community assistance, and provide oversight in potential community development.

Q: What role do the Northside Voyagers play in the community?

A: The project from inception was about finding out what the community wanted and needed, so building trust was first. No decisions are made without public workshops and Voyager involvement. There are 18 Voyagers, starting from 10 with the leadership of Stan Davis initially. Longevity and sustainability are key, and leadership development is provided. The transformation plan matches what has actually happened.

Q: How have you avoided gentrification?

A: This is an intentional process with projects including bringing back displaced persons to housing, programs for home buyers, down payment assistance, and bringing awareness of these programs to the community.

Q: Has the high cost of construction materials affected maintaining affordability goals?

A: Yes, but some materials were previously sourced. It is difficult to build a house for under $150K. Workshop tomorrow with Voyagers about this. Current low interest rates help. NDG working with partners with similar missions to ensure long term affordability.

Q: Are there conversations being had to bring concept out to other neighborhoods, such as Highlands.

A: In conversations with Highlands about assisting with their transformation plan. Tony has also worked with Southside and will work with others requesting assistance.

TATT Announcements:

Just us for our TATT Chat on Thursday and see https://www.tenatthetop.org/events/ for additional events. Look for May date for the Upstate Comprehensive Plan Review presentation.