Grant Helps Plan Next Chapter for Historic Chincoteague Firehouse
Image courtesy of Hill Studio
One of the hottest projects Virginia Housing is working on is the Community Impact Grant for the former Chincoteague Firehouse, located on Main Street in Chincoteague, Virginia. The $20,000 grant is being used to pay for a feasibility study and architectural report, which will help determine how to best use the building for residents of the island. The grant is made possible through Virginia Housing’s REACH Virginia program. Each year, Virginia Housing contributes a large portion of their net revenues into this program, providing funds to help meet critical housing needs across the state.
Providing Spaces for Residents to Live and Work
Proposals to be considered for the firehouse building include workforce housing and parking as well as commercial spaces. The historic building dates back to 1930 and is now owned by the town. In 2019, a new firehouse was slated for construction and town leaders began considering how best to use the older building going forward. According to Chris Thompson, Virginia Housing’s Director of Strategic Housing, the town of Chincoteague realized that they had a lack of quality housing for residents, so they acquired the old firehouse, hoping to use it to benefit the town as well as preserve its history.
“Virginia Housing is excited that the town of Chincoteague took the initiative to buy this building so that residents could have a great place to live and work downtown,” said Thompson. “A project like this can increase the vitality of the area, while assisting the local workforce.”
Addressing the Need for Affordable Housing
While Chincoteague is a destination for many tourists and vacation homeowners, increased housing costs have led to a loss of year-round residents. Adding new possibilities with the firehouse project, along with preserving the historic character of the building, could bring new affordable housing opportunities to the area.
In addition to recommendations for housing, the feasibility study will help generate a cost estimate and prepare development scenarios. The preliminary architecture and engineering report is needed to investigate the major infrastructure and building components to determine what issues exist, general solutions to the identified problems and costs involved. The firehouse is also in a flood zone, so it will require a design to mitigate issues. The town is currently reviewing designs submitted by Hill Studio.
The Community Impact Grant is the starting point for creating a much-needed addition to downtown Chincoteague’s housing and commercial district.
“The grant and studies demonstrate Virginia Housing’s commitment to working with local governments,” said Thompson. “We’re all excited to see what happens next!”