Wards Corner Task Force meeting notes from March 14, 2013

As always, thanks to Karen Mayne for the notes.

The Greater Wards Corner Task Force Meeting

Thursday, March 14, 2013 – 8:30 a.m.

Norfolk Collegiate School Center for Fine Arts

Department of Public Works

I-564 / Air Terminal Interchange – John Keifer presented a briefing with handouts on the project, which is a joint undertaking of the City, VDOT, the Virginia Port Authority, and the Navy.  The project will take several decades and will improve vehicle access to the Naval base and International Terminals.  Three of the five components of the project are complete or underway:  relocation of the Fleet Recreation Park is complete, the Hampton Boulevard underpass will be completed in Summer 2013, and the relocation of I-564 will start in Fall 2013 and be completed in Fall 2016.  Unfunded at this time are the construction of the Air Terminal Interchange and the grade separation of the railroad line at Terminal Boulevard.  Ultimately, it is hoped that the third crossing of Hampton Roads (known as Patriots Crossing) will tie in to I-564 and extend across Craney Island to the I-664 (Monitor Merrimac tunnel) crossing area.

Suburban Acres Street Lighting Concerns – An area field review warranted the recommendation of two new street lights at 7307 Yorktown Drive and along Galveston Avenue adjacent to 401 Virginian Drive.  The design for the lights has been submitted to Dominion Power for a cost estimate.  Once received, the City will move forward with the installation – the process is expected to take about six months.

Thole Street Median – Community Resource Officer Odell Davis has told the Suburban Acres Civic League that the principal of Suburban Park Elementary School has requested that the City consider removing the median divider in front of the school to ease traffic congestion during bus loading/unloading periods.  The Civic League asked to be part of the discussion process with Public Works if this is pursued.

 

Second Patrol Crime Statistics

A total of six crimes were reported in Denby Park (Planning District 38).  There was a slight decrease in violent crimes compared to February 2012.  Robbery, aggravated assault, stolen vehicles and larceny from auto were all reported in February 2013.

Department of Development

Suburban Park Shopping Center

Demolition is completed.  The following commercial entities have executed a lease:

  • Harris Teeter
  • Towne Bank
  • Sleepy’s Mattress
  • Albano Cleaners
  • Subway
  • Starbucks

Midtown Shopping Center

Rob Heavner of Retail Advisors will serve as the broker on real estate and leasing deals.  Midtown management has completed over $1.2 million in renovations.  Additional parking lot improvements are planned for the spring.  The Department of Development will continue to work with management on tenant and rebranding efforts.

Wards Corner Shopping Center

Negotiations are underway for the retail space formally occupied by No.  1 Chinese Buffet.  Possible replacements could be another restaurant or a dollar type store.

Farm Fresh

$1 million in renovations/upgrades are near completion.  A special exception was granted to operate a drive-thru for their pharmacy.  The Wards Corner location is one of the top producing grocery stores.  Farm Fresh is selling the cold storage units.  Development will continue to work with them on a strategy.

Kroger/Workforce Development Center

There continues to be a national interest in the area.

Utilities

 

Major Projects

Three of the four major projects in Wards Corner are near completion.  The Titustown Pump Station and the Wards Corner Sanitary Sewer Replacement are scheduled to be completed in spring 2013.  The Wards Corner Wastewater Pump Station estimated time of completion is summer 2013.  The I-564 Water Main replacement will begin construction spring 2013 with an estimated completion date of spring 2014.   

 

Louisiana Drive Water Main Replacement

The anticipated completion date is mid-April.

Granby Street Median Work – The pipe replacement work in the median area of Granby Street south of Little Creek Road is being done by Virginia Natural Gas.

Community Reports

Suburban Acres Civic League announced that it will be participating in the Great American Clean-Up on Saturday morning, April 27, 2013, by cleaning up trash that is accumulating along Virginian Drive and Louisiana Drive due to the construction of the new Suburban Park Shopping Center.  The civic league invites surrounding civic leagues to join them and has also asked Suburban Asset Management, owner of the shopping center, if they will join in.

The annual National Night Out will be held in the Oakdale Farms/Denby Park neighborhood on August 6, 2013.  The theme will be “Growing a Better Community.”  The civic league is looking for volunteers who have a few hours to help with organizing the event.  Those interested in helping with the planning should contact LaCrystal Locks at 757-348-6739 or RJ Luce at 757-404-8072.

Norfolk School Board Briefing

Brad Robinson, school board member, provided an overview of some of the issues the Norfolk School Board is dealing with, all of which center on budget problems.  Dr. Robinson said that student demographics in the city are changing, with the elementary school population increasing slightly and the middle and high school populations decreasing.  At the same time, many schools in the city have exceeded their useful life and need to be replaced.  The school board is looking at closing or consolidating some schools and realizes how controversial that will be.  If the Mayor’s proposed 2 cent increase in property tax rates is approved by City Council, the City would be able to replace two additional schools, for a total of four new schools in the near term.  The school board and City are looking into a new technology high school, but it would be very expensive and there is no money for such an undertaking.  While staffing cuts are still underway, the school board would like to see more reading specialists in the elementary schools and more math teachers at the middle and high school levels.

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