Earlier this week, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and the Birmingham City Council green lighted the application for the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant Program — a highly-competitive federal grant that will benefit the Smithfield, College Hills and Graymont neighborhoods—as well as the city as a whole.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the program “leverages significant public and private dollars to support locally driven strategies that address struggling neighborhoods through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation.”
If awarded the grant, the City of Birmingham and its partners will use the funds to:
- Acquire Parker High School’s 11 acres of surplus property
- Build 350 units of new multi-family homes at the Parker site
- Build 1,100 housing units overall across the community
In addition, the City of Birmingham will provide up to $35 million of matching funds over 8 years.
The entire project could yield a $242 million economic impact, according to city estimates.
“If awarded, this could change the face of the Smithfield community and revitalize one of our flagship neighborhoods,” said Mayor Woodfin. “With the support of the federal government and our partners, we can wrap our arms around this area to create a new Smithfield, one that honors its rich legacy but also looks to be a pioneer for innovative neighborhoods for the future.”
Comments From Councilors Clarke and O’Quinn
The project is in districts represented by City Councilors Carol Clake (District 8) and Darrell O’Quinn (District 5), with the heart of the project happening in Smithfield Court.
Both sent Bham Now the following statements about the importance of the proposal.
“If successful, it would be difficult to overstate how transformational a HUD Choice Neighborhood investment will be for the Smithfield Community,” said Councilor O’Quinn. “The centerpiece of the 8 year project will be the modernization of Smithfield Court, the city’s oldest public housing development. However, the City is also committing to additional development projects in the immediate vicinity, primarily new housing at various locations. Improvement of existing amenities and the addition of some new ones are also envisioned.
In a nutshell, quality of life in Smithfield is about to get a lot better for current residents and will attract new folks too. It is an incredible honor for me to represent the residents of Smithfield. Their grace has allowed me the great fortune of joining with my Council colleagues, Mayor Woodfin, City staff, and many other stakeholders to secure this opportunity for a community that played a vital role in Birmingham’s history.”
Councilor Clarke, added:
“This grant is highly competitive. Last cycle, only 6 awards were made nationally. The city has been hard at work with our co-applicant, the housing authority, for several months developing the plan and engaging the community. There are also numerous community partners involved. I am very hopeful that we can win and provide beautiful new homes and amenities that transform a large part of the Smithfield Community. Catalytic opportunities such as this are few and far between.”
Deadline Fast Approaching
The application is due Wednesday, Jan. 11. Finalists are expected to be notified this summer and winners notified in the fall.
“There are no guarantees in the realm of federal grant applications. Nevertheless, I am optimistic and can most assuredly say that everyone involved is all in. Hope lives in Smithfield,” O’Quinn concluded.
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