The Poplar Creek area of South Boston is becoming “popular” for new housing projects, with Southside Outreach Group and several partners planning to build at least 30 apartments, beside and behind two energy efficient “eco-mod” homes already located along the street.

Southside Outreach Group is partnering with the town of South Boston, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and Tri-County Community Action Agency in the project, according to Southside Outreach Group Executive Director Earl Howerton.

The project area includes almost four acres across the street from Miller Homes, formerly known as Fairmont Apartments, and initial plans call for 15 duplexes consisting of two apartment units apiece.

Similar to its home ownership projects, prospective renters would still have to go through a vetting process in order to qualify for living in one of the apartments, according to Howerton.

An architect and an engineer have been hired with the help of a $30,000 planning grant requested and received by the town, but no date has been set for beginning of construction, Howerton added.

“Everything is still in early stages, including a site plan and preliminary engineering report,” said Howerton.

The architect also is doing a rendering of a 6,000-square foot, two-story building at the site containing a workforce assessment center and day care on first floor and possible apartments on second floor, the executive director added.

Plans call for the apartments to be energy-efficient perhaps with the use of solar power, according to Howerton.

Work with the planning grant is anticipated to be complete by the end of the year, putting South Boston in position to apply for a larger grant of up to $700,000 through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development earmarked for infrastructure, according to South Boston Town Manager Tom Raab.

“We’re still in the planning stage,” Raab explained, adding a market study has been done, the results of which determined a need for low-to-moderate income housing.

There remains a possibility for more than 30 units, according to Raab.

“We’re trying to work with the higher ed center for a workforce training space and with Tri-County Community Action for possibly 24-hour daycare,” Raab added. “I think it’s a good project.”

Southside Outreach Group is responsible for a number of affordable housing projects throughout South Boston including coordination of the Sunnybrooke Housing Production Project with 22 homes on Myrtle Street in South Boston.

That project won the Best Housing Award at the Governor’s Housing Conference in 2006.

In April, renovations were completed for 46 family units with new energy efficient systems including upgraded kitchens and bathrooms at Miller Homes.

One unit became an office and the other a community room, with approximately $2 million spent to rehabilitate the other units, including the addition of appliances, washers, dryers, dishwashers and new heating systems.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at