WASHINGTON—The Reconnecting McDowell partnership's plan to build housing in Welch, W.Va., for teachers and other professionals is progressing with the hiring of an architect, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten announced today.
Reconnecting McDowell, the nearly two-year-old public-private partnership, was created to revitalize West Virginia's long-struggling McDowell County by improving schools, encouraging economic development, and addressing families' social and healthcare needs.
Reconnecting McDowell chose Community Housing Partners Design Studio to design a Teachers Village in downtown Welch, W.Va., which could provide approximately 30 housing units, community amenities such as a coffee shop on the street level, and areas for teachers to collaborate and relax. The design firm will present various options at Reconnecting McDowell's Dec. 17 board of directors meeting in Charleston, W.Va. The board plans to vote on one of the options after the presentation.
"We continue to hear that new housing is essential to bring in great teachers who will want to stay, and to spearhead an economic revival in the downtown area," Weingarten said.
Colin Arnold, managing principal of Community Housing Partners of Christiansburg, Va., said his firm hopes to break ground in spring 2014, using West Virginian union workers.
"We are thrilled and proud to be working with Reconnecting McDowell on this very exciting project. Our firm specializes in creating affordable, green, sustainable communities, which will be the foundation of whatever design the partnership ultimately chooses," Arnold said.
West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin, who is chair of the Reconnecting McDowell board, noted that Community Housing Partners has designed other projects in West Virginia, including in White Sulphur Springs and Oak Hill.
"McDowell residents are understandably excited about the headway we're beginning to make on economic development and on many other fronts to effect sustainable changes in this great community," Manchin said.