Work Program Architects has had the extreme pleasure to work with Dallas-based consultants Team Better Block to imagine a new vision for several Norfolk neighborhoods. Team Better Block, whose motto is “Reclaiming Cities for the Public Good One Block at a Time,” first worked with the community in 2013 to reimagine a neglected area at Granby and Olney Streets. It was an experiment in urban design, drawing 100 volunteers for a living charrette and pop-up commerce that included art galleries, performance spaces, and shops in empty storefronts; a public plaza with live music, art-making demonstrations, and a beer garden; food trucks parked along Granby Street; and new sharrows and crosswalks painted on the street. The result is the NEON arts district, now home to the Hurrah Players, PUSH Comedy Club, and other art galleries as well as the PLOT public space.
In 2014, Team Better Block returned to work with Park Place residents to reimagine the 35th Street corridor, once a thriving retail community, and re-energize it with plans for 19 new businesses, pedestrian-calmed intersections and re-claimed right-of-way for use by the neighborhood.
An Aug. 12, 2013, article in The Virginian-Pilot said, “Better Block Worked,” calling it an incredible success spurred by a small financial investment and the hard work of city employees and volunteers.”