David Street project wins $653,000 grant

It took three months longer than expected, but Henderson has received a Community Development Block Grant concentrated-needs award for its planned David Street revitalization project.

The $653,499 grant will rehabilitate or replace houses over a couple of blocks of David Street inside and outside the city, will create a small park, and will address the road and sewer infrastructure problems in the neighborhood, in the shadow of the former Harriet & Henderson Yarns complex in North Henderson.

Henderson’s CDBG specialist, Gwen Wright, had anticipated the positive announcement since the end of March, when the Division of Community Assistance was supposed to announce the grant winners. But uncertainties about the federal funding behind the grants led to delays, and instead of being one of the final successes of Grace Smith’s time as planning director, the grant becomes a welcome-to-Henderson present for Smith’s successor, Erris Dunston.

A city delegation including Mayor Clem Seifert, City Manager Eric Williams and Clean Up Henderson Committee Chairwoman Lynn Harper attended a Raleigh ceremony announcing the state Division of Community Assistance’s concentrated-needs grants Wednesday. Rep. Michael Wray, D-Northampton, who represents Henderson in the state House, also was there.

Henderson was one of 16 successful applicants among 93 cities and counties in North Carolina. The city competed in a region that included applications from Aberdeen, Benson, Elm City, Franklin County, Franklinton, Louisburg, Lumberton, Mebane, Moore County, Nash County, Nashville, Red Springs, Robeson County, Stantonburg, Vance County, Wagram, Wilson County and Yanceyville

The maximum possible grant was $700,000, and 11 of the winning cities and counties got that amount. Henderson got all that it requested in its application. The state awarded a total of $10,040,545.

Seifert announced the grant before Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He said that the project is a major undertaking and that the city staff will need a lot of support from the council as the project progresses.

The Planning Department chose David Street for the grant because it has a mix of renters and owner-occupants. Wright said other streets plagued by dilapidated, overcrowded housing, such as Orange Street, lack homeownership.

The David Street project is at the heart of a proposed small area redevelopment plan Seifert and his housing task force are crafting for the northeastern quarter of the city. That plan grew out of the technical assistance provided to the city by the federal Housing and Urban Development Department’s College of Experts program, and the City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday night asking the Division of Community Assistance for free technical help in creating that plan.

The only cost to the city for the DCA help would be the mileage of the state employees driving to Henderson, meals for night meetings, and supplies.