Westbury redefines public housing in Portsmouth

Issue: April/May 2001
Issue Date: Sun, 2001-04-01
Page Number: 6


Virginia project features new urbanist design principles and looks like another Hope VI housing program success. 6Just a few blocks from downtown and adjacent to I-264 in Portsmouth, Virginia, a new neighborhood of vibrantly colored, traditionally designed single and duplex homes is rising on a site formerly occupied by a dismal public housing project. The old public housing, Ida Barbour, had a bad reputation that depressed housing values on surrounding blocks. The new project, Westbury, is a mixture of public housing and affordable for-sale and rental properties. It is shaping up to be a successful model of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) recent philosophy of replacing public housing with mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods. Designed in 1955, Ida Barbour was the product of “urban renewal” planning and architecture ideas. The historic street and block pattern of Portsmouth was replaced with a barracks-like group of buildings. The 663 units were placed on superblocks. Streets and street connections were minimized, and buildings were set in poorly defined “open space” areas that were difficult to police and had no sense of individual ownership. “If somebody was playing dice on your doorstep, there was no way to tell that person to leave,” explains

Posted by New Urban News on 01 Apr 2001