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Details emerge for demolition

Feb. 16, 2014 @ 09:59 PM

HUNTINGTON — The long-anticipated demolition of the Northcott Court housing development will start with three buildings facing Hal Greer Boulevard.

Those buildings, constructed in the 1940s, have been a bit of an eyesore for the city, and out-dated for residents, for decades.

“We have 30 units in those buildings, out of which 23 are occupied,” said Huntington Housing Authority executive director Bill Dotson. “That’s where everything will start.”

Those three buildings are the most public face of a development that has gained a reputation for criminal activity as the property has deteriorated.

Dotson said the Housing Authority, which provides 3,000 public housing units throughout the city and has a waiting list of about 4,000 applicants, has not leased the seven vacant units to anyone because the buildings were slated for demolition.

He said the Housing Authority is expected to receive vouchers for relocating the residents who do live in those buildings from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shortly.

“Although, with HUD, you never really know,” Dotson, who has headed up the Housing Authority since 1985, said with a bit of a dry chuckle.

Demolition and relocation of the 13 buildings that make up Northcott Court has been in the works for a long time, though the plan was only officially adopted by the City Council in June 2013. The project suffered a set back over the summer when the city’s plan didn’t get approval from the federal government, and was delayed further by the government shutdown in October.

The announcement that the plan was finally approved came during a Huntington City Council meeting last week.

According to information from city of Huntington communications director Bryan Chambers, relocation of residents has begun after the Housing Authority met with tenants individually to determine their needs.

Some have indicated they will accept vouchers for private units, while others will move to other housing developments owned by the Housing Authority.

The Housing Authority will cover any moving costs, and expects to have tenants relocated by the end of May.

Demolition of the first three buildings is expected to be complete by the end of June.

Dotson said the entire demolition process will be done in phases and could take up to three years.

In the meantime, the Housing Authority will begin construction on two, 40-unit townhouses for senior citizens, and 50 family-based units throughout Huntington’s Fairfield area. A third senior townhouse complex, also 40 units, will be built along Charleston Avenue.

Space for the construction will come from the Huntington Landbank program, which acquires, sells and clears dilapidated property, Chambers said.
The city’s plan is not to rebuild housing on the Northcott Court property, but to use the property for commercial development.
The property will have to be rezoned, and Mayor Steve Williams said one of the things he hopes to build on the site is a grocery store, saying that in talking to Fairfield West residents, he has heard that request multiple times.
The city will also entertain proposals from private developers, Chambers said.  

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