Adding value to inner-city neighborhoods through housing and economic development.
Southeast Regional Development Corporation (SRDC), the second company under GCI, was formed when JW Gibson’s pastor asked him to work with the church to develop an independent living facility for the congregation’s elderly in Whitehaven. Realizing that funding for this venture would be a challenge, JW created SRDC as a social enterprise in order to take full advantage of the various government programs in place to support the building of a quality housing community for members of a certain age and income bracket.
For JW, his pastor’s request had multiple appeals, including the ability to improve the value of an inner city neighborhood and create pride in the community. The land that was earmarked for the development was a sewage dump. After having the soil tested and determining the land was safe for building, SRDC built a retainer wall to reroute the sewage and protect the property. SRDC then built Westwood Manor, 48 cottages designed for the ease and convenience of the elderly. The rental units filled within a month and continue to have a waiting list. SRDC handled the initial management of Westwood Manor and connected with the Council for Aging to offer programs for the residents before turning management over to the church.
JW wanted to do more for the Whitehaven community. He met with neighborhood associations and community groups to get their input on how to improve the quality of life in the area. Based on their input, JW selected a wooded area that served as a dumping ground for trash along with an unusual number of couches and transformed it into a housing development called Wesley Forest.
In Wesley Forest, SRDC constructed 165 townhomes, the first multifamily units in the Whitehaven area in more than 40 years, along with 65 single-family homes, 20% of which were set aside for qualified, low-income families. The quiet Wesley Forest neighborhood has not only made the community safer, it has increased commerce in and around the area.