December 5, 2019

Revitalization and Workforce Housing Coming to Middlesex County

Governor Ralph Northam (center) visited the Cook’s Corner revitalization site.

Middlesex County on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula is ground zero for a revitalization plan that is expected to produce multiple benefits for the region.   

In an area called Cook’s Corner, 24 affordable workforce housing rental units will be built by 2020 as a measure to attract and retain skilled workers. The new apartments will provide much-needed housing for Middlesex County employees — teachers, sheriff's deputies and others — as well as residents and employees from adjacent counties.   

While housing is the cornerstone of the plan, other components will boost the region’s economy and infrastructure. They include moving and repurposing a historic school as a micropub (a restaurant and mini-brewery), converting another vacant school building to a special events center, renovating a gymnasium and county offices, building a nature trail with signage commemorating the region’s African-American heritage, and extending water and sewage lines.

Early funding for Cook’s Corner has come from several sources: 
  • A VHDA Community Impact Grant is covering site planning and design work, a market study, the preparation of zoning and bid documents and other upfront development activities.
  • The River Counties Community Foundation awarded the foundation $150,000 over a three-year period.
  • Plan sponsors have also received a $2.25 million Vibrant Communities Initiative grant through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and a $480,000 Industrial Revitalization Fund grant.
The housing units will be developed by the Middlesex Foundation. (The chairman of their all-volunteer board is Bruce DeSimone, a former VHDA official with extensive housing development experience.) Other partners collaborating with the foundation include:
  • Middlesex County and its School Board
  • Middlesex County Economic Development Authority
  • Rappahannock Oyster Company
  • Middlesex Water Authority
  • Hampton Roads Sanitation District
The Cook’s Corner revitalization plan will check three important boxes – it will produce affordable workforce housing, it will create jobs and new tax revenues, and it will expand vital infrastructure through new water and sewer lines. It’s a textbook example of just how transformational such plans can be, and the difference they can make in a community. 
Learn more:
Chris Thompson, VHDA’s director of strategic housing, is your source for learning about the many different ways in which a Community Impact Grant can support community revitalization efforts. He can be reached at 804-343-5692 or

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