Meadowbrook resident and Norfolk Citizen, Fred Archer, sent the following letter to the editor of the Virginian-Pilot:
I believe it was Sydney J. Harris who remarked you judge a city by the number of people walking its streets after dark. Perhaps we can enlarge that picture to include daytime as well. With that in mind downtown Norfolk thrives and draws us there for food, entertainment and commerce. I applaud how life has evolved in the heart of our community. Now I long to have some of that vibrancy spill out to our other communities and especially to Wards Corner. Since moving to Norfolk 15 years ago I have waited to see some brightening up of this potentially lively part if our city. A couple of years ago I got excited as there was suggested movement in just that direction. Since then nothing but two sterile drugstores. Hidden in the Corner are several gems, The Pancake House, Rom Thai and some businesses one might need occasionally (shoe repair, jewelry, eye care for instance). But there is very little walking about in the area. There is no general store, no trendy watering hole with outside tables. The area is accessible from the interstate and from a number of communities in walking distance. Come on City Council, pay attention to the wonderful possibilities in Times Square of the South. Put our money where your mouth was just a short time ago.
I thought Norfolk was talking about a deficit in the coming budget. We can not get any money for Wards Corner but we have $5,400,000.00 for this project. Also how much are we losing by giving the land away, which I am sure we paid for.
Aren’t the tenets’ really coming from other buildings downtown so is there any real net gain in revenue?
If this is such a great project than let Wachovia pay for it all and spend the $5,400,000.00 in Wards Corner.
Norfolk council OKs downtown complex with 22-story tower
Posted to: News Norfolk
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Wachovia Center will include 250,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail space, and 160 luxury apartments. (Courtesy of S.L. Nusbaum Realty)
By Harry Minium
© March 5, 2008
The City Council unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday night that will lead to a $171 million, mixed-use development downtown, anchored by a 22-story office tower.
Wachovia Center will include 250,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail space, 160 luxury apartments and 1,900 parking spaces in two garages.
The project will receive about $9 million in city subsidies, according to the agreement approved Tuesday.
Included is $5.4 million for public utilities and right-of-way improvements. Nearly 5 acres of land, valued at $3.6 million, also will be given to the developer.
City officials said that is a bargain price for a project that will keep four large corporations downtown and bring a fifth – LTD Management Co., a hotel management firm – from Chesapeake.
Some of those businesses might have moved to suburban locations were it not for Wachovia Center, Mayor Paul Fraim said.
“The fact that we’re building an office tower in this market is remarkable,” Fraim said, referring to the difficulties in the credit industry.
“Projects like this are being shelved all over the country,” Councilman W. Randy Wright added.
Officials from S.L. Nusbaum Realty, which is developing Wachovia Center, said Wachovia Bank will finance the project.
Nusbaum will move its headquarters into the building. Other major tenants include Wachovia, which will centralize its downtown operations; the accounting firm of Goodman and Co., and the law firm of Willcox & Savage. The office tower is 70 percent leased.
Its location on Monticello Avenue between Scope and MacArthur Center will move the central business district northward.
“This will be a catalyst to develop the rest of the north end of downtown,” said Alan Nusbaum, president of the company that bears his family name.
The city will spend $53.4 million to build the two parking garages. However, the garages will be paid for with parking fees and will not affect the city’s debt limit.
Roderick Woolard, the city’s director of economic development, said the project will pay $2 million in direct taxes to the city in its first year and $3.5 million in its tenth year.
Construction on the project, to be located on a stop of the new light rail system, is to begin in April with the demolition of the Monticello Avenue garage.
Nearly 1,250 parking spaces will be lost during the two years of construction without the garage, a surface parking lot and on-street metered spaces.
The project will force the temporary relocation of Hampton Roads Transit’s Charlotte Street transfer station, one of Norfolk’s busiest.
“We’re working with the city to establish a suitable place to relocate,” said James Toscano, vice president of public affairs at HRT. Thirteen bus lines converge at the stops along Charlotte. Toscano said the relocation will likely take place next spring.
Staff writer Tom Holden contributed to this report.
Harry Minium, (757) 446-2371, email@example.com
You are very correct about the current situation in Wards Corner. Hopefully the crosswalk improvements will make the area more pedestrian friendly. I also invite you to visit my store: The Book Exchange, and believe you will include it in your list of Wards Corner gems. In addition I invite you to open a trendy watering hole or general store in the area. The owner of The Pancake House or I will gladly tell you: if you offer quality products in service in Wards Corner, they will come.
Owner- Book Exchange
Secretary- Greater Wards Corner Business Association
Is it just me or did anyone else catch Mayor Fraim’s “Some of those business’ might have moved to suburban locations were it not for Wachovia” comment? Hhhhmmmmm Websters’ “suburb: residential area surrounding a major city”. Nothing like telling us exactly what you think of your ‘suburbanites’ there Mayor. Once again we will see you at the next city council meeting! Let’s see how many of us can show up on Tuesday March 18th (i can take a few extra in my vehicle) and show them how serious we are about this!!)
It really amazes me sometimes.That is why i have been going to city council.For the simple fact when i have to kill someone because we do not have police protection because we have 69 police officers short in this city.I am sure we are loosing as many police officer’s that is graduating from the school.So when i get sued i can sue the city cause i sure have been begging for police presence.
It would be nice if the City would look out for bicycle traffic by installing bike lanes on all byways leading to Wards Corner. I rode my bike to the Post Office last Friday, pretty scary