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The Drew Lewis Foundation: Designing A Pocket Neighborhood

BRP Architects’ employees, Nick Banner and Brian Vanne are joining forces with the Drew Lewis Foundation for a project that aims to redefine affordable housing and community development. Led by Dr. Amy Blansit, the Foundation's commitment to community betterment, empowerment, and asset-based urban development has set the stage for a transformative collaboration.

The focal point of this collaboration is to design a pocket neighborhood with affordable housing, strategically located in an area of town needing quality, affordable housing. This initiative, undertaken by BRP’s duo, aims to bring 14 Craftsman-style homes to the Northside with the vision to create a development that encourages socialization and community growth.

Nick Banner, an Architect at BRP, emphasizes the importance of architects giving back to their community, particularly in shaping the environment. He states, “I believe it is important for architects to give back to their community, especially when it comes to the built environment. Facilitating accessible home ownership for all is a central goal, and the creation of a pocket neighborhood presents a strategic opportunity to revitalize surroundings while providing affordable housing.” Aligning with his commitment to community betterment, Nick highlights the collaborative design process, working with Amy Blansit and her team. Together, they aim not only to construct houses but to create homes that foster a sense of community and belonging.

Left: Nick Banner Right: Brian Vanne

Community involvement is a cornerstone of this initiative, embodied by BRP Architectural Designer, Brian Vanne, who not only designs for the community but is also a resident of the neighborhood himself. “The aspect of helping those in need move towards the path of home ownership, especially as difficult as it’s become lately, felt like a way I could give back and be more directly involved with our community.” Brian's commitment is rooted in both the project's proximity to his home and his firsthand experience navigating the challenges of purchasing a house. His active engagement not only mirrors the community-driven ethos but also underscores the impactful role residents play in actively contributing to the ongoing transformation of their neighborhoods.

Amy Blansit's commitment to inclusivity shapes the project, with a low-income component for eligibility and a socio-economic blend. This pocket neighborhood aims to offer homes at $135,000, ensuring accessibility for families in need. The remaining homes will be sold at current market values, fostering diversity and vibrancy within the community.

As the collaboration progresses, the project is set to break ground in May, with the goal of completing the development by the end of 2025. The culmination of the efforts by BRP Architects' team, signifies not just the construction of houses but the building of hope and the revitalization of the Northside of Springfield.


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