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Norfolk settles lawsuit over St. Paul's redevelopment project

The city agreed to pay $200,000 to residents and improve its housing voucher program.

NORFOLK, Va. — Almost two years after Norfolk residents filed a lawsuit against the city over St. Paul’s redevelopment project, the city has agreed to pay out $200,000 to settle the suit.

The lawsuit was filed back in January 2020 by residents of the low-income units who claimed the plan would harm families by reducing the amount of affordable housing.

But as part of the settlement, the city also doubled down on its promise to allow residents a chance to move back in. 

Norfolk city attorney Bernard Pishko said in a statement: “The city is pleased the lawsuit challenging the plan for the redevelopment of Tidewater Gardens has been dismissed.”

The redevelopment plan is a massive project. The city is tearing down the aging government-subsidized housing complexes and replacing them with more modern, mixed-income units.

Residents have to relocate to make way for the project.

The lawsuit claimed the redevelopment plan would harm thousands of predominantly black families by pressuring them to move out and leaving them with limited options on where to go.

Developers have stressed families will have the option to move back into the newer apartments when they’re completed.

This settlement affirms the city’s commitment to giving residents that opportunity.

A joint notice of settlement was filed in General District Court on Nov.18 and the case was dismissed by a judge on Nov. 30.

As part of the agreement, Norfolk is improving its housing voucher program and increasing the number of replacement units for former residents, including the development of off-site units.

And the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority agreed to pay moving expenses, security deposits and early lease termination fees.

The city will also pay 200 thousand dollars to the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia to be divided among the plaintiffs.

The parties also agreed to issue a joint press release describing the settlement.

Pishko said the goals of the defendants and plaintiffs were aligned enough to reach an agreement.

“Tidewater Gardens which was 600 units of concentrated poverty will be redeveloped with 700 units of mixed-income housing with approximately one-third traditional public housing, one-third low-income housing where Tidewater garden tenants can also choose to relocate and one-third as market rate," Pishko said.

"In addition to this replacement housing,  public housing will be included in developments in other areas of opportunity. The City looks forward to assisting with the development of this uplifting plan. The City looks forward to assisting with the development of this uplifting plan."