EXMORE: New Road gets $3.7M toward 47 housing units

A tiny home is under construction next to an existing two-bedroom home in New Road. Photo by Stefanie Jackson.

BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post —-

The New Road Community Development Group, of Exmore, has been awarded three state grants totaling nearly $3.7 million toward the cost of its Legacy Project’s second phase, which will consist of an additional 47 affordable housing units in the New Road community.

“We’re doing something that is not only transformative for that community, we’re literally doing something that is transformative for the Eastern Shore. Outside of Cape Charles, you won’t see anything like what we’re building,” said Ava Wise, executive director of the New Road group.

The aim is to provide low- to middle-income families housing that is affordable but also includes features that will add comfort and curb appeal and attract developers who will invest further in the area.

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development awarded Affordable and Special Needs Housing program grants to New Road for three parts of the project:

— $939,413 for three duplex homes, a total of six housing units that will be available to buy

— $939,400 for another three duplexes, a total of six units that will be available to rent

— $1,804,500 for Legacy Plaza, which will feature a 12-unit apartment building with commercial space on the first floor, a 15-unit apartment building, and an additional four duplexes, bringing the project’s total housing units to 47.

The majority of the new housing will be on the west side of U.S. Route 13, near Ruth Wise Road, in Exmore.

Four of the duplexes will be on the east side of U.S. Route 13, two facing Occohannock Neck Road and two facing Row Lane.

New Road has 100% funding for the first six duplexes that will be built in the Legacy Project’s second phase at a cost of about $4.5 million.

“Construction costs around the country are crazy,” Wise said.

The costs of construction are even higher on the Eastern Shore due to the region’s isolation and lack of contractors.

The general contractor on the Legacy Project will be advertising not only on the Shore but in Maryland, Delaware, and Hampton Roads to “cast a wide net” in the search for subcontractors, Wise said.

She is waiting for the completion of one last step before construction of the first six duplexes can begin – a drainage report for the Virginia Department of Transportation on runoff, which is anticipated to be minimal.

Wise expects the groundbreaking on the six duplexes will take place by the end of June.

Legacy Plaza is approximately 75% funded, including the recently awarded $1.8 million Virginia DHCD grant.

New Road also was awarded Low Income Housing Tax Credit funds last year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for Legacy Plaza and recently applied for another round of LIHTC funds that, if received, will push Legacy Plaza toward 100% funding.

Locus Bank, a Virginia community development financial institution, can provide New Road loans to fill funding gaps that may remain.

Wise said the groundbreaking for Legacy Plaza likely will occur by the end of the year.

“I hope that this project will … open the door for private sector developers to now see the potential of the Eastern Shore … not to overcrowd it and to overbuild it and turn it into Virginia Beach and all the things that people are afraid of, but to literally bring a diversity to the housing stock that attracts … working people, more jobs, higher incomes,” she said.

“When people see the kind of investment that’s being made in an area, that attracts all kinds of other investments,” Wise said.

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