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Stalled Northcott project gets green light

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By James E. Casto
For The State Journal

The long-stalled redevelopment of Northcott Court is back on track, Mayor Steve Williams told members of Huntington City Council at their Feb. 10 meeting.

Built in 1940, Northcott, located on Hal Greer Boulevard, is one of Huntington's oldest public housing projects. More than two years ago, the city and the Huntington Housing Authority announced a plan to demolish it and replace it with new housing and commercial development.

But repeated efforts to obtain approval of the plan by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proved unsuccessful.

Now, Williams said, HUD has finally given the project a green light. He said he anticipates the Housing Authority will begin moving residents out of Northcott by late spring or early summer. Demolition will quickly follow, he said. 

The authority envisions building two 40-unit senior townhouse complexes and 50 family-based units scattered throughout the Fairfield West neighborhood to replace Northcott's 129 units. After Northcott is demolished, the four acres of property will be used for commercial purposes. Fairfield West residents have urged the Authority to try luring a grocery store to the property.  

Officials say the redevelopment plan will provide much improved housing for Northcott's residents, redefine an area that has been plagued by crime and give a facelift to one of the main arteries into the downtown.

The Housing Authority has said tenants now living at Northcott will have the option of moving into other public housing units or accepting a housing voucher so they can move into a private unit. The authority also will cover their moving expenses.  

Housing Authority Director Bill Dotson has said that when the authority is ready to market the Northcott property for commercial use, it will rely on the Huntington Area Development Council to help find a tenant or tenants. "They're the ones who have the expertise in economic development," he said.