NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - If you're from the Virginia Peninsula, it's no secret that there is a stigma attached with the East End of Newport News. Some streets are rundown, and crime rates are high. But the city has a plan to change all that with a multi-million dollar revitalization project.
With the project, city officials hope that once the community looks better, residents will appreciate it more, and criminals will have no place to do their work. By tearing down the old buildings, and old sidewalks, the City of Newport News is hoping to build up something new in its people.
"I think it is going to build some new excitement and demonstrate that the city cares about all parts of Newport News," said NN Department of Development Director Florence Kingston.
The city is investing millions in the the East End and Downtown to revitalize the area. You can already see some the beautification work like the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Plaza built at the intersection of
Jefferson Avenue and 25th Street. You can see construction crews working on an 11-million dollar streetscape design on Jefferson Avenue as well.
"It is complete street reconstruction, burying the overhead utilities, power and telephone," Kingston said. "We are putting the lines underground and building new sidewalks and landscape."
The city is also improving lights and bus shelters. It will help the residents who rely on public transportation or walking to get where they need to go safely.
The revitalization project also includes giving residents more housing options. In the Madison Heights neighborhoods, the city is building new modern, affordable, energy-efficient houses to allow more residents to become homeowners.
"By bringing back new modern housing alternatives, it is a way to bring people who grew up in this community back, and build upon changing the socioeconomic mix," Kingston said.
The historic Roam building on Jefferson Avenue will be turned into 14 modern residential units for elderly and low-income residents.
Kingston said former NFL quarterback and Newport News native Aaron Brooks is a co-developer in the a new commercial development in the East End. Once complete, it will be named after him -- Brooks Crossing -- and the city hopes to attract more businesses and commercial development there. The commerce center already has lease negotiations for a medical facility, shipyard building, credit union and drugstore occupants.
The Newport News Police Department is also interested in the city's revitalization work. When 10 On Your Side asked police how beautifying the East End could help with the area's crime problem, they referred to something called the Broken Window Theory.
"When you have broken windows in a community, crime seems to come towards those windows," Community Resource Officer Donald Greathouse said. "Criminals love dirty places with no lights things so they can commit crimes."
Police said the city's investment in several revitalization projects could have an opposite effect.
"Anytime you get new businesses and new development, it's going to reduce crime," Greathouse said.
Residents will also be closer to the officers trying to combat the area's crime issues. The city has proposed moving the second police precinct near Jefferson Avenue, making officers more visible.
"I think when that happens, the people in the community are going to feel eager to come to the police department and report more things and talk," Greathiouse said.
The city said once the revitalization projects are complete, there will be a great emphasis on maintaining and landscaping the area.
For a full list of the projects planned for Newport News, click here.
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