The Virginia Avenue revitalization project

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Southern New Hampshire University
This project aims to revitalize the Virginia Avenue Corridor, a former central business district located in Cumberland, Maryland. The area is characterized by blighted neighborhoods, abandoned property, criminal activity, and community disinvestment. In order to transform the community to a safe, vibrant neighborhood that provides a mix of housing, business, and employment opportunities that facilitates civic engagement and promotes community pride; the project focuses on improving the physical conditions of the community, increasing community engagement, and decreasing crime. The key outputs and activities identified for the project were the acquisition, demolition, and renovation of property; community leadership training; beautification projects; community meetings with local elected officials and representatives from the police department; and the establishment of a neighborhood crime watch. The planned activities were designed to not only achieve the project’s short-term outcomes but also to complement and reinforce each other, increasing the likelihood that community change would occur. While the project is still ongoing, the progress towards the three short-term outcomes-improved community conditions, increased community engagement, and decreased crime, shows that the project is on track to achieving the intermediate and long-term outcomes. This thesis presents information on the approach employed to revitalize the former central business district, engage the community, and outlines the lessons learned. (Author abstract)