Riverside Purpose Built effort aims to revitalize northeast Wilmington neighborhood


Purpose Built Communities, a non-profit consulting firm, announced that it has designated Wilmington’s Riverside neighborhood as the 19thof its communities in the United States.

Government representatives, the REACH Riverside Development Corporation and theWilmington Housing Authority were on hand for the Tuesday announcement in the Riverside neighborhood in northeast Wilmington.

Purpose Built President Carol R. Naughton, Charles McDowell, Chairman of the REACH Riverside Board of Directors, and REACH Riverside CEO Logan S. Herring Sr. sign the final
agreement designating Riverside an official Purpose Built Community

Under the Purpose Built model, REACH Riverside will work in partnership with community members and other partners to develop and implement strategies for a career education pipeline, mixed-income housing, and a community health and wellness initiative.

The goals for Riverside include the development of 400 new units of mixed-income housing, the enhancement and expansion of Kingswood Community Center’s Early Childhood education program, the addition of a high school to the East Side Charter School’s current pre-K through grade 8, and the expansion of the Kingswood Community Center facility to increase access by Riverside residents to health and wellness services.

Working with REACH Riverside is The Teen Warehouse, a partnership of more than 50 teen-serving organizations that will provide school-day and after-school health and wellness programs and services to Wilmington youth between the ages of 13 and 19.

“Today’s wonderful news follows years of research, planning, and development by the city, WHA, community leaders and Riverside residents, all of whom recognize that it is time to invest in an inclusive, holistic manner to make Riverside a neighborhood of opportunity for all of its current and future residents,” said Mayor MikePurzycki. “We are very excited about the prospects for the future of this neighborhood and this area of the City.”

“The State of Delaware is proud to be partnering with Mayor Purzycki, other local officials, and community leaders to strengthen communities across the City of Wilmington, and ensure that resources are reaching economically-distressed communities that need those resources the most,” said Gov. John Carney. “We want to make sure that everyone in Wilmington and across our state has an opportunity to succeed, and contribute to Delaware’s success.”

Purpose Built services, which are provided at no cost, are tailored to each community’s needs and the dynamics of the neighborhood they are working to revitalize. With a goal of breaking the cycle of I poverty, Purpose Built uses best practices to guide neighborhood revitalization by creating pathways out of poverty, a release stated.

Entities involved in the project are:

  • The REACH Riverside Renaissance Development Corporation, branded as REACH Riverside (Redevelopment, EducationAnd Community Health), which will take the lead on the project.
  • The Wilmington Housing Authority, which owns the existing Riverside public housing project, will work in partnership with Pennrose, LLC, a development company that specializes in mixed-income, affordable housing, to develop the high-quality mixed-income housing in the Riverside neighborhood.
  • Kingswood Community Center will play a central role as landowner for a portion of the new housing and the home of other project components, including early learning, senior services, and health and wellness services and other amenities.
  • East Side Charter School, which borders the north end of Riverside, will be the foundation of the education pillar and will lead the establishment of a “cradle to college and career education pipeline” to serve the neighborhood children.

The Purpose Built Communities model, which emerged out of a neighborhood revitalization initiative in the late 1990s in Atlanta has demonstrated the importance of private sector leadership in breaking the cycle of poverty in neighborhoods that havesuffered from low levels of educational achievement, high unemployment, crime, and blight.

“We have been impressed with the effort underway in Wilmington ever since the Mayor, Charlie and their team first came to Atlanta,” said Purpose Built Communities President Carol Naughton. “Their commitment to understanding what works best for Riverside, its families, and its children, their willingness to partner with the community, and their ability to provide leadership to bring the necessary partners and resources to the table will make a great difference for the neighborhood and its residents.”

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