On Tuesday, October 13, the Olde Huntersville community received the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association’s (APA) Dogwood Award – Virginia’s Citizen Planners of the Year Award for their collaboration with the City of Norfolk’s Planning Department in the creation of the Olde Huntersville Plan Book. The award honors an outstanding group of citizens, civic leaders, or similar community groups that exemplify all citizen planners by being dedicated, objective, open, moral, balanced, and knowledgeable of the framework of planning in Virginia.
APA recognized the plan book for its citizen involvement to better their community with the City’s help. The Olde Huntersville Civic League, together with the City and Work Program Architects (WPA), worked to develop the plan book consisting of a set of free house plans that help expedite construction of new homes on the narrow lots in Huntersville. The process ensures new construction in the community is in keeping with the neighborhood’s established architecture, while making the process easier for builders and affordable for potential homeowners. To date, 25 new homes have been constructed or are under construction or under plan review.
“Norfolk looks to be both innovative and impactful and we believe that the partnership that created the Olde Huntersville Plan Book epitomizes both,” stated City Planning Director George Homewood.
Developed in the early half of the 1900s, the Olde Huntersville neighborhood is an historic African American community with narrow lot sizes. Over time, the housing stock suffered due to struggling economic and social conditions along with the mindset that “narrow” homes were less desirable. This led to the demolition or conversion of properties throughout the neighborhood, resulting in scattered vacant lots with little new construction.
In 2017, the civic league approached the City to find a way to incentivize development in their neighborhood. The collaboration between the civic league, City and WPA resulted in the Olde Huntersville Plan Book. The plans within the book have lowered costs for builders and future homeowners, shortened the process of building a new home in the neighborhood and added to the local construction industry capacity all while enhancing the neighborhood with increased homeownership.
View the Olde Huntersville Plan Book overview video from February 2020.