Residents in a Virginia neighborhood will have access to a credit union, a hub for fresh food and a garden landscape thanks to a new revitalization project.
The $275 million Freedom First Credit Union in Roanoke, Va., will anchor the half-acre tract in Mountain View with a new branch scheduled to open in early 2013.
Site preparation for the project will begin in August with plans to include an urban mix of commercial and meeting space, a community pavilion with a full service production kitchen, and gardens to encourage and promote healthy financial and physical lifestyles.
Project organizers are working to attract a supermarket to the area as part of the overall project.
The effort is a joint plan from the West End Center for Youth, Freedom First, the City of Roanoke, and grants from the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development.
The kitchen and gardens will enable the West End Center to bring fresh food and nutrition education to the neighborhood, and the community meeting space will accommodate educational initiatives, according to organizers.
Freedom First and the West End Center are also working with a number of neighborhood organizations, including the Local Environmental and Agricultural Project and the Roanoke Community Garden Association as well as area schools and service organizations, to help plan and guide best use and practices for the project, said Joy Parrish, executive director of the West End Center, which owns the property and will oversee its community activities.
In addition to a broad range of financial services, Freedom First offers specialized financial products and programs designed to support first-time home buyers and low- and moderate-income households that have been underserved by traditional banking institutions.
“When Freedom First became CDFI certified in 2010, it was our goal to invest in the growth of the entire community,” said Paul Phillips, president/CEO. “The West End project is representative of what can be achieved through a collaboration of public and private investments dedicated to real change in the area.”
The project was spurred by an $850,000 CDFI Fund grant to Freedom First intended to promote economic revitalization in low-income communities by assisting with initial branch operating costs, community-based financial education, and job creation.
To expand the scope of the project, those funds were combined with $343,176 in HUD Community Development Block Grant funds from the City of Roanoke to the West End Center.