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Revitalizing Wilmington's Riverside Neighborhood

Jul 09, 2024


Aerial Riverside

Checking in on the REACH Riverside Master Plan

In the summer of 2022, Pennrose, REACH Riverside, and the Wilmington Housing Authority gathered to celebrate the grand opening of Imani Village, the first phase in the multi-phase, community-led master plan designed to redevelop Northeast Wilmington’s Riverside neighborhood under the Purpose Built Communities Network, a holistic approach to tackling poverty through housing, education, and health care.

Since the ribbon cutting, the burgeoning Riverside neighborhood has seen a flurry of exciting updates and activity. So far, we have welcomed more than 140 families into their new homes as part of Imani Village Phases I and II. In addition to their new homes, many residents are also enjoying access to Imani Village’s full menu of amenities, including community and business centers, playground and green space, community garden, and on-site supportive services.

When we asked Property Manager Shanta Collins about the first few months of move-ins and the neighborhood’s atmosphere since, she said, “The overall sentiment of residents is hope and happiness. There is a tangible sense of healing among the community – after all these years, Riverside is a community on the rise.”

Over the past two years, we have seen first-hand how residents have developed an overwhelming sense of pride in their community. For example, an independent, resident-led council has been established to foster transparency, open communication, and collaboration between residents and management.

The resident council has been integral in advocating for the needs of residents, fostering civic engagement, and working closely with Pennrose’s Community Impact Coordinators to plan meaningful community events. The robust calendar of on-site programming has ranged from sessions on tenants’ rights, legal aid, and fraud prevention to youth and family activities, including community cleanups and “Prime Time Family,” a free and catered story time for children ages 6-10. Imani Village’s garden committee also recently planted multiple raised garden beds in the shared garden to grow fruits and vegetables, like green beans, cucumber, and watermelon, for residents to enjoy.

Notably, in August 2023, the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the Wilmington Housing Authority and the City of Wilmington with the $50 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant Award. The funding from this historic investment will help cut the development timeline nearly in half, from an expected 20 years to less than 10.

 So, what’s next for the REACH Riverside revitalization?

“The development team is just getting started,” said Pennrose Senior Developer Ryan Bailey.

By 2031, the next five phases of the transformative redevelopment will bring more than 500 new mixed-income homes, including townhomes for families, senior housing, and affordable homeownership opportunities, to the community.

This year, we are working to finalize financing to begin construction on Phase III, which includes 184 high-quality, affordable homes. The project team is also currently hosting hands-on community engagement and planning sessions to gather input and identify priorities for Imani Commons Park, an exciting component of the third phase.

From playgrounds, splash pads, and a community event plaza to fitness areas, outdoor classrooms, walking paths, and more, the one-acre park will be the heart of the new neighborhood, creating a central hub for social interaction, wellness, and shared memories for residents and neighbors alike.

Construction will also soon be underway on the brand new Kingswood Community Center, a pillar of the Riverside neighborhood since 1946. The new, state-of-the-art facility will include a world-class Early Learning Academy, modern Jimmy Jenkins Senior Center, health center, and fitness facilities. The upgraded Center will also offer a host of on-site programming for the local community, including financial coaching, health and wellness initiatives, youth engagement opportunities, family support services, and career readiness and employment coaching.

In addition, The Warehouse, an innovative, one-stop center developed “For Teens, By Teens,” opened in 2020, and continues to engage local youth with recreational activities, educational resources, arts instruction, college and career development, and so much more.

“The Riverside redevelopment is a huge undertaking, and this multi-faceted initiative wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated, civic-minded team of project partners working collaboratively across sectors,” added Ryan. “It’s incredible, for the entire Pennrose team, to see the project coming to fruition after years of hard work planning, engaging residents, and securing financing.”

Once complete, the eight-year REACH Riverside master plan will deliver over 700-units of high-quality, mixed-income housing, along with increased access to education and health care – the three pillars of a thriving community.

 Interested in reading more about the comprehensive REACH Riverside redevelopment? Visit