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Library Rising in the Heart of the Tri-Cities (Jan 2014 issue of Reaching new heights)


Cameron doles out $800,000 for city library, Halifax redevelopment

Progress-Index Staff Reports, Published: January 18, 2014

PETERSBURG – Two major grants will help the city become a better place to live and learn, the Cameron Foundation announced Friday. The Better Housing Coalition will receive $500,000 for a redevelopment project in the Halifax Street area, while the Petersburg Library Foundation will accept $300,000 toward their fundraising campaign for the city’s new library.

It is not the first time the foundation has lent a helping hand to the redevelopment project.

“We were pleased with the success that resulted from that collaborative effort,” Board Chair Larry C. Tucker said in a statement. “The Better Housing Coalition’s stewardship of those resources supported our decision to invest in Phase II,” he added. The foundation gave BHC $100,000 in the October 2012 grant cycle, $200,000 in March 2011, and $220,000 in October 2009.

The BHC first teamed up with the Restoration of Petersburg Community Development Corp., started by the Rev. Dr. Robert Diggs of Tabernacle Baptist Church, to construct the Claiborne Square senior apartment complex. The 47-unit, $6.6 million project opened in 2012 to provide quality housing for local, low-income seniors. Phase II is even more ambitious – replacing 21 largely dilapidated properties on Porterville, Gresset and Hartley streets with 40 modern one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with off-street parking.

The project received a nod in December 2013, when Petersburg City Council approved rezoning 23 properties for Phase II.

The Cameron Foundation’s cash will go toward onsite improvements such as lighting, grading, curb cuts for handicapped ramps, a playground, rain gardens and landscaping, according to a statement. The cash injection will help BHC and ROPCDC compete for critical low income housing tax credits early this year, J. Todd Graham, Cameron Foundation president, said. Both projects presented an urgency to act outside of their usual grant cycle.

The new Petersburg Public Library, nearing completion at West Washington and Market streets downtown, has also received ample support from the grantmaker. The library project has received $2.7 million from the foundation, second only to the city’s $5 million investment.

“The community has really rallied around this project with its financial support, underscoring just how important it is,” Graham said. “We hope this additional grant helps the Petersburg Library Foundation quickly wrap up the campaign, open the doors to the new library and begin providing the many valued services to the community that it has planned.”

A groundbreaking for the 45,000-square-foot library – which is several times larger and vastly more modern than the present building on South Sycamore Street – was held in April 2012.

“This gift is going to help us leverage the remaining $200,000 that we need to close out the campaign,” said Spokeswoman Cheryl Collins. Between their community campaign and New Market Tax Credits, the final tally will be close to $14.5 million, she said.

A grand opening is now expected in April, delayed by weather factors.

“We want to make sure we do the project right,” Collins said.

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