NVAHA 15 – Accomplishment #5 (2019): NVAHA Hosts “Hybla Valley/Gum Springs Community Listening Session” to Create a Shared Vision for Northern Virginia’s Richmond Highway

The Embark Richmond Highway is a new land-use plan in Fairfax County that will support walking, biking and a bus rapid transit system on Richmond Highway. This plan will also create more than 18,000 new housing units, 8.5 million square feet of nonresidential development, and interconnected parks along a 7.5 mile stretch from Huntington Avenue to Jeff Todd Way in Fort Belvoir. 

While large scale redevelopment efforts can generate significant benefits and amenities, they can also increase displacement and gentrification pressures as neighborhoods become more desirable. To address concerns that naturally arise from these types of revitalization efforts, NVAHA decided to organize a community forum, pulling in support from a range of nonprofit partners including:  Good Shepherd Housing, ICNA, NAACP Fairfax Chapter, New Hope Housing, South County Task Force, United Community Ministries and Zero Model.

On April 30, 2019, NVAHA and its nonprofit partners, hosted the “Hybla Valley/Gum Springs Community Listening Session,” a community-wide forum that brought together more than 120 community members including residents, small business owners, community-based organizations, county staff, and local elected officials. The goal of the evening was to involve those most affected by these changes in shaping the future of their community. 

Participants took part in an interactive workshop that allowed space for residents to identify community assets, list existing challenges, and share concerns for the future. Residents left the meeting feeling heard and valued for their perspective; county staff left with a better understanding of residents’ needs and concern; and developers walked away with insights into the types of properties, units and amenities that would best serve the community.