The ribbon cutting for Tranquility at the Lakes celebrates a fresh start for the Burton Station community in Virginia Beach—and demonstrates how exceptional partners deliver exceptional results. The team behind Tranquility features a longtime VCDC colleague, Community Housing Partners Corporation, and a first-time partner, Seniors Unlimited Lifestyles, Inc. The new three-story community of 40 affordable apartments for seniors was almost ten years in the making. But on March 31st, the doors opened, thanks to perseverance and partnership.
Angela Whitehead is CEO of Seniors Unlimited Lifestyles, Inc. (SULI), a nonprofit organization with a mission of providing affordable housing and supportive services for low-income senior residents of Virginia’s Hampton Roads region. Angela learned that VCDC had helped to create a quality affordable housing community in Petersburg, VA. Angela and her team, including Rebecca McCaden and June Twyman, contacted VCDC and began conversations about how to do the same for seniors in the Hampton Roads area.
For the next three years, Whitehead considered various sites and options. While she searched for a place to build her vision, she also worked to build her development skills. Whitehead attended community meetings, asked questions, and sought solutions.
Her tenacity paid off. For decades, the residents of Burton Station, a community established by freed slaves over 100 years ago and located adjacent to Norfolk International Airport, sought infrastructure and other public improvements. The City of Virginia Beach established the Burton Station Strategic Growth Area and began implementation of infrastructure improvements along with targeting land uses consistent with preserving this community’s residential character. Current and former residents retained affection for the neighborhood. The City and stakeholders agreed that housing for seniors would complement the public improvements being made.
The vision was taking shape, but it only became a reality in 2014, when Community Housing Partners (CHP) offered to joint venture with SULI. With CHP on board leading the development, design, construction, and property management, the project moved ahead. CHP’s experience and expertise helped lead the way—since 1975, CHP has created more than 6,000 units of quality affordable housing.
Construction started in the middle 2016, and the Certificate of Occupancy was awarded in December. Residents have been identified for all of the apartments, including residents with long ties to the Burton Station community. One such resident is Ms. Doris Blount who was featured in a short video produced by the City of Virginia Beach.