Master Planning Work
Parker Riddick + Cypress Manor
- Master Planning
- Suffolk, VA
- Suffolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority
- June 2008
- Master Planning
When Wiencek + Associates Architects + Planners first saw the Section 8 neighborhoods that we sought to revitalize, we were struck by their isolation - both physically and economically from the rest of the city as well as internally. Literally caught between the Great Dismal Swamp and two railroad lines, behind a vacant shopping center, and segregated from adjacent working-class neighborhoods by fences that failed to solve past problems, the residents lived in clusters of buildings facing parking lots with ill-defined open spaces around them. The objective of transforming the community into an interconnected, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood of first choice was far off.
Always looking to the larger picture, we worked with the Board of Directors and spoke with city agencies to promulgate our vision for larger-scale changes to the city. The original growth of the city came from the rivers to the north and farms to the west. The bypass is on the north and west sides of Suffolk. Back-of-house land uses such as the dump and junk car lots were located to the east, but in recent years the cities east of Suffolk have become the source of job growth and also of new residents, so the "back door" is now the primary entrance. We developed long-range plans to extend the city's bypass, possibly as a boulevard crossing above the railroad lines, to reconnect the disadvantaged neighborhoods with the growth opportunities they need to make them attractive to people with a range of income levels for economic revitalization. This "bodacious" concept, as the Chairman of the Board said, could make a lasting difference in the lives of their residents.
At the smaller scale, we have found that integrating existing forgotten buildings with new ones reinforces the dynamic richness that mixed-use mixed-income neighborhoods seek. We focused our efforts on defining a variety of observable, active public spaces for different activities, creating pedestrian-friendly streetscapes that connect a blend of housing types with community services and retail. We worked with an adjoining property owner on their own masterplan to establish a relationship that allowed for a blending of incomes not only on our property but on theirs, so that there would be no displacement nor concentration of the lowest-income current residents.