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