City of Takoma, MD

Takoma Old Town Revitalization


Testimonial
The Situation
The Need
The Solution

Testimonial
Vernon Ricks, former Councilmember, City of Takoma Park –

From the moment Alvin Nichols arrived in Takoma Park, he branded himself as a relationship builder. We quickly came to know him as a highly competent professional who could be trusted to respect and work with everyone in the community.

Alvin took the reins of our City’s community development program and set in motion a full service revitalization strategy. He was a hands-on manager in a job made all the more difficult because of the active engagement of our elected officials and residents. But Alvin didn’t let political dynamics grind down the program. He seemed to thrive on working through public participation.

With Alvin’s leadership and technical know-how, working hand-in-hand with the City’s elected officials, we were able to reverse the City’s neighborhoods decline, without displacing our residents and disrupting our communities. Alvin got the job done, and brought everyone on board in the process.

Takoma Old Town Revitalization

The Situation
Takoma Park Maryland is one of the Washington DC area’s oldest communities. Renowned for its attractiveness and community activism, Takoma Park is defined by charming neighborhoods, gracious Victorian homes, and the centerpiece of community life, the authentically restored Takoma Old Town retail center.

However, the greater Washington community has not always viewed Takoma Park as quaint and attractive. Time and multiple issues of change had resulted in creeping physical decay, creating an economy and a community that faced challenges of preservation, restoration and sustaining its viability. Homes and public infrastructure were in need of repair, and the City’s iconic retail center was withering under severe pressure to be redeveloped into a contemporary high-density commercial center, dramatically altering the City’s character.

The Need
Takoma Park was in desperate need of a Revitalization Strategy, and the professional leadership to plan and manage its implementation. The City’s elected leadership recognized that it needed to put in place a revitalization strategy that would proactively manage change in a way that protected its residents and at the same time welcomed investment.
Takoma Old Town Revitalization
The Solution

In multiple roles over a period of eight years, Alvin Nichols led the planning and execution of the City’s residential and commercial revitalization strategies. As Director of Community Development, he put in place the infrastructure necessary to craft and manage a citywide neighborhood revitalization initiative, including: a major housing rehabilitation loan program; “Operation Turnaround”, a program of acquisition, rehabilitation and sale of derelict properties as single-family owner-occupied homes; a “Tool Library”, where residents could borrow tools to repair and maintain their homes; and rebuilding public infrastructure.

Four years into implementation of the City’s revitalization strategy, Alvin Nichols’ professional career took him into private real estate development. However, the City’s Mayor and Council, witnessing the ongoing success of its neighborhood revitalization programs, appointed Alvin to Chair the Takoma Park “Commercial Revitalization Coordinating Committee”, charged with crafting a vision for renewal of the City’s deteriorating primary commercial center, a once-vibrant retail node bordering the District of Columbia.

Ironically, after leading the “Commercial Revitalization Coordinating Committee” in crafting of a vision and strategy for the commercial center, Alvin was asked by the City’s leadership to return to Takoma Park as City Manager, where he led the implementation of the Takoma Old Town revitalization vision, including façade easements, utilities reconfigurations, infill development, and Victorian themed streetscape improvements. Takoma Old Town was transformed into an inviting place where its citizens could be proud to visit, shop, and call home.