Rice’s and Hofheimer’s at Wards Corner

February 6, 2014

The following is taken from the Virginian-Pilot Archives Facebook page:

It was 62 years ago [2/6/1952] tomorrow that the beloved Hofheimer’s and Rice’s opened at Norfolk’s Wards Corner.

It took over a year to construct the $350,000 building.  Norfolk’s mayor Duckworth made an appearance at the opening ceremony where shoppers received balloons, lamb’s wool shoe buffers, key cases and Hawaiian orchids.

The Hofheimer’s store was the fourth in the shoe chain to be located in Norfolk proper.  Some features that allowed customers to enjoy their shopping experience:
The store has its own 50 car parking lot.  Comfort was assured while shopping as the entire store was cooled by air conditioning. The lighting was florescent and incandescent throughout.  Flagstone floors and carpeting were found throughout both stores.  Elevator service was provided to the second floor.  On the second floor, children were delighted to find a supervised “Circus Playground” complete with a merry-go-round, slide, see-saw and hobby horse.

The most popular feature of the store and the one that seems to bring back the most memories of the establishment is the glass enclosed cage where two South American woolly monkeys were housed (On the Sewells Pt. Rd. side – now Little Creek). The cage was air conditioned at a constant 70-ish degree temperature for the comfort of the animals.

It seems that most locals remember one monkey – Lulu… and we scoured our photo collection for a picture of Lulu but came up short.

The building was demolished in 2000 and a Walgreens now stands at this location.

A large advertisement that ran in The Virginian-Pilot the day of the opening.

A large advertisement that ran in The Virginian-Pilot the day of the opening.

A rare shot of the location where the building would be constructed – photo taken in 1950. VP file photo.

A rare shot of the location where the building would be constructed – photo taken in 1950. VP file photo.

A shot of the store just days before the Grand Opening. Virginian-Pilot photographer Charles Borjes snapped this photo on Feb. 5, 1952 as workers put the final touches on the store. Photo c/o The Sargent Memorial Collection.

A shot of the store just days before the Grand Opening. Virginian-Pilot photographer Charles Borjes snapped this photo on Feb. 5, 1952 as workers put the final touches on the store. Photo c/o The Sargent Memorial Collection.

Here is the building fully opened some time later. VP file photo.

Here is the building fully opened some time later. VP file photo.






Virginian-Pilot’s Michelle Washington gives a good summary of recent developments at Wards Corner

January 5, 2014

The only update to the information in Michelle’s article that I have is that the artist for the public art at Wards Corner has been chosen and it is Gordon Heuther.  The next steps will be bringing Gordon to Norfolk and introducing him to Wards Corner.  There will be public meetings so that Mr. Heuther can meet the residents and receive input for the to-be-designed public art.  You can view Mr. Heuther’s website here.

Informative portions of the VP article include the history of the K&K name:

Wards Corner once again bears the K&K name.

Lots of history inhabits those letters. A red brick Harris Teeter now sits surrounded by fresh landscaping and newly paved streets close to where Kenneth Perry launched a toy empire. He started as a barber in Wards Corner in 1942.

More than a decade later, he bought a nearby variety store and changed its name to K&K 5&10, adding the second K for his wife, Kathryn. The toy section of that store grew until it became its own entity. K&K Toys expanded for decades, growing to 136 stores before Perry sold it to a competitor.

K&K Toys has been gone a long time. But most people in Norfolk and in much of the country recognize the successor to Kenneth Perry’s entrepreneurial spirit: Dollar Tree. It, too, grew its roots in Wards Corner, founded by Perry’s son, J. Douglas Perry, and son-in-law, Macon Brock.

Chris Perry, Kenneth Perry’s grandson, tore down the old shopping center, including a Dollar Tree store, to make way for Harris Teeter. He renamed it K&K Square at Wards Corner.

The property remains hugely important to his family, Perry said. Friends of his grandparents will be reminded of them by the name, and newcomers will have reason to look them up.

“It’s a nice way to remember them,” Perry said. “I think my grandparents would be proud.”

Perry also refurbished and remounted the Wards Corner mermaid, another reminder of his grandfather.

The full article can be read here.

Joan Dalis is stalling efforts in Wards Corner

June 12, 2013

Michelle Washington, of the Virginian-Pilot, wrote an article about the wait for improvements to Waterside and Wards Corner.  You can read the entire article here.

Across town from Waterside, another neglected duckling also waits for its transformation.

A $1.2 million renovation of the Midtown Shopping Center in Wards Corner has been completed for months.

Gleaming white stucco hid drab brown corrugation; a bold new sign proudly announces WARDS CORNER to passersby. Fresh white paper went up in the windows, along with new signs that advertise retail space for lease. Across the street, at the former Suburban Park shopping center, walls have begun to rise for a new Harris Teeter grocery store. Its opening is months away, but all but one of the center’s retail spaces has been leased.

Yet the Midtown Plaza, owned by Joan Dalis, continues to harbor empty storefronts behind that fresh exterior. Negotiations with Dollar Tree – a national chain founded in Norfolk that opened its first store in Suburban Park shopping center – to occupy space in Midtown fell through. Dollar Tree plans to move into the former # 1 Chinese Buffet restaurant in the center on the northwest corner, which also contains AutoZone and Pancake House. AJ Gators, which enjoyed a prime Wards Corner location until it was razed for the Harris Teeter, has not been able to find a new site nearby.

Dalis put me off three times when I called to ask why those shops remain empty.

Folks in Wards Corner have begun to despair that, once again, they have been fooled into thinking their neighborhood stood on the verge of a rebound.

Acting Economic Development Director Chuck Rigney said Wards Corner remains the focus of considerable interest. Dalis “feels she can continue to entertain opportunities,” Rigney said. “She’s going to be the one who determines what’s in the best interests of her center.”

It’s hard to imagine that empty space fits that definition, for Dalis or for anyone.

Councilman Andy Protogyrou let his frustration with Dalis show. “She put lipstick on a pig, but if she would actually rent the property she would turn it into a peacock,” he said.

Norfolk waits, no longer patiently, for Wards Corner and Waterside to get the rest of that makeup on and come to the dance.

“Norfolk poised to buy parcels of land” – Virginian-Pilot headline

January 16, 2013

Jill Nolin at the Virginian-Pilot wrote an article that was published today, January 16, 2013, indicating that the City of Norfolk is preparing to purchase blighted properties in Wards Corner and Ocean View.

The city is poised to spend millions in the coming weeks as it buys the former Travelers Inn in Ocean View and more property in the Denby Park area of Wards Corner as part of plans to revitalize struggling neighborhoods.

City officials were tight-lipped about the proposed Wards Corner deals, but Martin Thomas Jr., vice president of the Wards Corner Civic League and a member of the city’s planning commission, said residents have been pushing the city to focus on the 300 block of East Little Creek Road and the so-called “Texas streets” behind it.

. . .

In the current budget, city officials allocated $2 million for acquisitions in the Wards Corner area.

. . .

In Wards Corner, the city is looking to clean up the Denby Park area. The city has finished its negotiations, but a deal has not been completed, said Councilman Andy Protogyrou. He declined to comment further because of the “sensitivity of the process.”

Winn said city officials want to further reduce housing density in the area by targeting sites with apartment buildings. Last year, seven buildings in the 300 block of San Antonio Blvd. were torn down on property the city acquired for $2.7 million.


Pilot editorial writer, Michelle Washington, pushes for Denby Park renaissance

October 21, 2012

Virginian-Pilot editorial writer, Michelle Washington, wrote an article about the continuing crime in Denby Park and the KaBoom! park that is so crime ridden that it is considered by some to be unsafe for their children.  Read the article here.

But they [LaCrystal Locks and Melissa Torbert] are not willing to accept a Denby Park without a place for kids to play. They focus on a future when the renaissance blooming near them at Wards Corner and further up Little Creek at the Walmart shopping center finally engulfs the streets named for Texas cities that evoke the opposite of its wide open spaces.

When that day comes, they hope Denby Park can once again host a playground, a real park with plenty of green fields for little ones to run, picnic tables for watching parents, and yes, a brightly colored jungle gym.

Despite all of the great news lately about the redevelopment of Wards Corner, we must continue to focus on the substandard housing in Denby Park that breeds and attracts crime.  That is why the recommendation of the Wards Corner Taskforce continues to be that the City Manager purchase and demolish more of the apartments in the 300 blocks of E. Little Creek Road, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.

Wards Corner is “A neighborhood rediscovering its pride”

July 31, 2012

Michelle Washington, an editorial writer for the Virginian-Pilot and a Wards Corner resident, wrote an opinion piece about the renovation and rejuvenation of Wards Corner entitled “A neighborhood rediscovering its pride”.

The article can be read in its entirety at the Virginian-Pilot website.

The article mentions the renovations to the shopping center at the northeast corner of Wards Corner, the demolition of the old A.J. Gators, the new Mexican restaurant moving into the old Bobbywood location (Guads @ Granby Street), the arts center at Norfolk Collegiate under construction, and area sewer upgrades as reasons to celebrate the revival of Wards Corner.

VP Editorial on Wards Corner

January 20, 2012

Michelle Washington, a reporter and editorial writer for the Virginian-Pilot and apparently a resident of Wards Corner, wrote an editorial in today’s edition of the paper about Wards Corner.  The article can be read here.

Selected portions:

Once again, we are all, old residents and new, eyeing the future of Wards Corner with hope.

The city’s confirmation last week that developer Chris Perry would bring a new $18 million Harris Teeter to the southeast corner of the intersection brought me wild imaginings of what else the development might draw. Perhaps excitement about a grocery store is merely a strong indicator of how much time I spend at the grocery store. It could also be an indication that folks nearby will support not only an upscale grocery store like HT, but a number of other restaurants, bars and retailers that would benefit from the foot traffic generated by a supermarket.

Instead of a string of disappointments, Wards Corner residents have recently witnessed a series of victories. Last summer the city bought seven apartment buildings in Denby Park, an area that has long struggled with blight and crime. Norfolk Collegiate School is constructing an $8.5 million arts center on Granby Street just blocks from Little Creek Road.

Best of Norfolk winners from Wards Corner

May 24, 2010

Congratulations to the following Greater Wards Corner Area businesses who received “Readers Choice Best of Awards” for Norfolk in 2010 (as printed in the Virginian-Pilot):

BEST BREAKFAST – The Pancake House (Gold)

BEST CHINESE – Number 1 Chinese Restaurant (Bronze)

BEST CHIROPRACTOR – Wards Corner Chiropractic (Gold)

BEST PHYSICAL THERAPY – Southeastern Physical Therapy (Silver)

BEST PHYSICAL THERAPY – North Shore Sports and Physical Therapy (Bronze)

BEST PLACE FOR EYE CARE – Pearle Vision (Bronze)

BEST ASSISTED LIVING – The Ballentine (Gold)

BEST ASSISTED LIVING – Province Place of DePaul (Bronze)

BEST PEDIATRICIAN – North Shore Pediatrics (Gold)

BEST ANIMAL HOSPITAL / VET CENTER – Friendship Veterinary Hospital (Bronze)

BEST PET BOARDING – Friendship Veterinary Hospital (Bronze)


BEST RETIREMENT COMMUNITY – The Talbot on Granby (Bronze)

BEST SENIOR SERVICES – The Ballentine (Gold)

BEST SENIOR SERVICES – PrimePlus Norfolk Senior Center (Silver)

BEST SENIOR SERVICES – The Talbot on Granby (Bronze)

BEST HOLISTIC VET – Friendship Veterinary Hospital (Silver)

BEST USED BOOK STORE – Book Exchange (Gold)

BEST PRIVATE SCHOOL – Norfolk Christian (Gold)

BEST PRIVATE SCHOOL – Norfolk Collegiate (Silver)


BEST GOLF COURSE – Sewell’s Point Golf Course (Bronze)

BEST SUPERMARKET – Farm Fresh Supermarkets (Gold)

BEST SUPERMARKET – Kroger (Bronze)

BEST PHARMACY – Farm Fresh Supermarkets (Gold)

BEST PHARMACY – Walgreen’s (Silver)

BEST BAKERY – Farm Fresh Supermarkets (Gold)

Denby Park murderer pleads guilty

January 22, 2010

Alton Joe “AJ” Lacy, pictured to the right, was first reported on by WardsCornerNow back on September 13, 2009 and September 18, 2009 when he was wanted for the murder of Troy A. Booker.

Booker, who was 22 years old, was murdered in the 300 block of Fort Worth Avenue in Denby Park.

The Virginian-Pilot now reports:

A dispute and threats among street cocaine dealers led to a September 2009 fatal shooting and a guilty plea to second-degree murder and a firearm charge Thursday in Circuit Court.

Alton Joe “AJ” Lacy Jr,, 30, admitted to shooting twice at Troy Booker, 22, on Fort Worth Avenue in Denby Park. Booker died at the scene; a bag containing crack cocaine was found on him, according to facts stipulated to in court.

Lacy told police he had been selling cocaine in the area and that, after threats and attacks on previous days, he believed it was “him or me,” according to the stipulation.

Sentencing was scheduled for March 26, according to online court records.

WANTED: “AJ” Lacy for Denby Park murders

September 18, 2009

AJLacyThe Virginian-Pilot is reporting that Alton Joe “AJ” Lacy is wanted on murder and firearms charges.

Lacy is accused of killing Troy A. Booker, 22, in the 300 block of Fort Worth Avenue in Denby Park on Sunday night.

Police described Lacy as a short-haired, dark-skinned black man, 5-feet-7 and 210 pounds, with at least two tattoos: “wisdom, beauty, strength” on his left arm, and “M.O.B.” on his right bicep. He frequents Denby Park, Berkley and Tanners Creek, , but his last address wasn’t known, Amos said.

Police asked anyone with information to call Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (562-5887).

Wards Corner Now previously reported on this murder on September 13, 2009 in “Homicide in Denby Park“.

Homicide in Denby Park

September 13, 2009

According to the Virginian Pilot:

Police are on the scene of a fatal shooting in the 300 block of Fort Worth Ave.

Police were called to the neighborhood shortly after 9 p.m. for reports of shots fired and when they arrived found a 22-year-old man who had been shot, said Karen Parker-Chesson, Norfolk police spokeswoman. Medics pronounced the man dead at 9:11 p.m.

City has no plans to buy land in Wards Corner

May 17, 2009
The following was in the Sunday, May 17, 2009 edition of the Compass (Virginian-Pilot):


City Councilwoman Theresa Whibley represents the city’s affluent west side, including much of downtown, but you can’t say she’s not interested in other parts of the city.

Commenting on the city’s land acquisition revolving fund, from which the city has spent nearly $13 million in recent years acquiring 13 properties, Whibley said:

“It disturbed me that all of the acquisitions are in the downtown area.  None of them are in Ocean View or Wards Corner. It’s frustrating that we can’t do more at Wards Corner.”

From the former St. Mary’s Infant Home to the Red Carpet Inn side on Tidewater Drive, 12 of the 13 properties were indeed in or near downtown. Another was a tire store on Hampton Boulevard near Old Dominion University.

Purchases from the revolving fund are paid for by land sales, such as the recently authorized sale of $2.9 million of city land around a Norfolk reservoir in Virginia Beach to the Beach. Once the check from the Beach clears, the fund will have a balance of $4.8 million.

City officials said they have no current plans to buy more land in Wards Corner or anywhere else.

Another murder in Denby Park / Oakdale Farms

April 23, 2009

The Virginian-Pilot reports:

A man was shot and killed this morning at an apartment complex on East Little Creek Road.

The shooting was reported at 2:52 a.m. in the 400 block of E. Little Creek, said Karen Parker-Chesson, a spokeswoman for the police department.

She said the man was found inside an apartment building at the address, but she didn’t know any other details.

The man, described by Parker-Chesson as unidentified, was pronounced dead at 3 a.m.

No arrests have been made, she said.

The Pilot’s article:  Man shot, killed on E. Little Creek Road in Norfolk

Virginian-Pilot: Wards Corner retail hub needs rehab

November 3, 2008

The Virginian-Pilot had an article in Sunday’s paper titled “Once a gem, Norfolk’s Wards Corner retail hub needs rehab

Wards Corner thrived decades ago, housing one of the city’s most upscale shopping centers that luxury retailers dubbed “the Times Square of the South.”

But times have changed in this heavily traveled section of the city.

“It’s a wasteland,” City Councilwoman Theresa Whibley, who represents Wards Corner, said recently of the area’s commercial district. “Any of us who saw what it once was are saddened to see what’s happened to Wards Corner. That area needs a lot of help.”

Read the entire article here.

VP Article on Denby Park playground

August 4, 2008

The Virginian-Pilot has posted an article that outlines how some residents are skeptical:

“There’s so much crime here,” said R.J. Luce, who lives a block away from the vacant land where the playground will be built, at 352 San Antonio Blvd.

“I’m afraid it will become a magnet for the wrong people. I’m worried one of the children is going to get shot.”

And some residents welcome the playground:

Jody Fife, a mother of two who lives in a house across San Antonio Boulevard from the playground area, said children shouldn’t be punished because of bad elements in the neighborhood.

“If you’re going to take back your neighborhood, you have to try something,” she said.

Read the article: Plan for a Norfolk playground finds critics, skeptics

Remember to sign up to help construct the playground, contact: Melinda Luchun at 823-4210 or email CommunityOutreach@norfolk.gov

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