Updated Apartment and Townhouse designs from Collins

January 16, 2015

Please remember to come to the meeting on January 20, 2015 at the Fitness and Wellness Center at 6:30pm to view the designs and provide input. This will likely be the last chance to provide input before the project goes before Planning Commission and City Council.

The apartments and townhouses are planned to be constructed on Newport Ave, just north of Granby Elementary.


1.  The max height of the apartments is going from 47ft to 49ft

2.  The max height of the Condominiums is going from 43’8″ to 49ft.

illustrated siteplan

Apartment Amenities

Apartment Amenities

Community Gathering Space

Community Gathering Space

Main Entrance and Pocket Park

Main Entrance and Pocket Park

Wooded Trail and Pool Area

Wooded Trail and Pool Area

Trail Connection

Trail Connection

Revised Apartment Elevations

Revised Apartment Elevations

Exterior Finish Materials

Exterior Finish Materials

The entire PDF packet can be seen here.


Collins to present new apartment and townhouse plans for Newport Ave

November 14, 2014

Arthur Collins is back with another plan for his property on Newport Ave just north of Granby Elementary.  He will be presenting to the Wards Corner Civic League and the Talbot Hall Civic League.  Both meetings will be open to the public.

Wards Corner Civic League meeting:
November 17 @ 645pm
Fitness and Wellness Center

Talbot Hall Civic League meeting:
November 24 @ 7pm
Royster Memorial Church

For history on the property and Mr. Collins, please read: Art Collins, Going his own way – Unwilling to put any agreements in writing

The new proposal will require an amendment to the zoning for the property.  The rezoning will require Collins to go before the Planning Commission and City Council for approval.

Proposed site plan including apartments to the bottom right and townhouses to the left

Proposed site plan including apartments to the bottom right and townhouses to the left

Collins’ current zoning allows for 385 multifamily dwellings which could either be apartments or condos.  There are currently 12 condos constructed in the northeast corner of the site.

The new proposal calls for 318 total units of which 180 are to be apartments, 68 townhouses, and 70 condos (including the already constructed 12 condos).

Proposed townhouse design ideas

Proposed townhouse design ideas

The new proposal calls for a pool and clubhouse for the townhouses and what appears to be a second pool and clubhouse for the apartments.

View down a street of proposed townhouses

View down a street of proposed townhouses

For more details attend one of the civic league meetings and review the complete presentation (PDF).


Art Collins, Going his own way – Unwilling to put any agreements in writing

January 7, 2011

After multiple meetings over the last 12 months, Arthur Collins has decided to move forward with his apartment project without agreeing to any of the neighborhood suggestions that have come out of those multiple and numerous meetings.

Mr. Collins sought, and received, approval in 2008 to build a condominium complex on Newport Ave, adjacent to Granby Elementary School.  At all times relevant it was marketed and reported to be a condo project.  He was granted a rezoning which allowed 385 units to be built on the property (very dense) with the complete understanding of City Council and the surrounding neighborhoods that it would be a condo project.  A quality homeownership project was the only way that the community and City Council would accept the increased density.

Unfortunately, due to zoning regulations, a project cannot be limited to condos, and so this project was designated as multifamily.

2008 Original Siteplan - shows six small condo buildings nearest Newport Ave and three large condo buildings toward the river

2008 Original Siteplan - shows six small condo buildings nearest Newport Ave and three large condo buildings toward the river

The zoning that Collins received in 2008 required his site plan (definition: A site plan “usually shows a building footprint, travelways, parking, drainage facilities, sanitary sewer lines, water lines, trails, lighting, and landscaping”.) to be exactly as was on file in the Planning Department.

Unfortunately, the market for condos is now almost nonexistent.

Collins Apartments - Collins Summer 2010 proposal putting a large apartment building where four small condo buildings were to be built

Collins Apartments - Collins Summer 2010 proposal putting a large apartment building where four small condo buildings were to be built

Collins, in the summer of 2010, proposed an apartment complex which included a very large, almost circular, 4-story building, located up against Newport Ave which was to have included 189 apartment units.  Collins indicated at that time that there would be very little green space in his apartment proposal.

The neighbors and City Council members were not impressed.  They were unhappy with the switch from condos to apartments and the very large apartment bloc was uninviting and uninspiring.  It did not fit in with the nature and character of the neighborhood or Newport Ave.

Collins went back to the drawing board and came up with a more palatable proposal in the fall of 2010.  It was to be called the Landmark at Talbot Park and the design was well received.  Collins promised amenities like multiple clubhouses, multiple pools, public walkways, elevators, and attractive buildings.  Additionally, Art Collins agreed to engage the City for traffic calming solutions to accommodate the additional traffic; especially between the schools.

The Landmark at Talbot Park - Site Plan

The Landmark at Talbot Park - Site Plan

There were still those who were absolutely against apartments.  But the majority of those in attendance at the fall/winter meetings were warming to the newest proposal.  The neighbors asked for one thing:  put the proposal in writing and include it in the zoning of the property.

The neighbors had been let down before by Mr. Collins’ change from condos to apartments.  Before they would sign off on the new plan, they asked that he take the pretty architectural drawings that he was showing off at the meetings, and agree to build what was in those drawings.  If Collins were to put in his zoning that he would build what he was proposing, he couldn’t change his mind later and build something unexpected.  Without the zoning change, Collins could build all of the apartments and not a single amenity.  The neighbors were concerned.

Community members got together and came up with a proposed list of “proffers” or “conditions”.  They included requirements that the pools be built, that the walkway be built, that the elevators be built, and that the buildings look like the pretty pictures that Collins was parading from meeting to meeting.  Most, if not all, of the “proffers” were agreed to by the developer, and there was little doubt that the few that were not agreed to could be resolved.

The problem was that Collins (and/or his attorney) changed his mind and refused to put the “proffers” or “conditions” in the zoning.  They wanted to use them as “site plan conditions” which were unenforceable.  It took a meeting with Planning Director to finally convince the developer that “site plan conditions” do not restrict the developer.  One has to wonder whether the developer knew this all along and was hoping to pull a fast one on the neighbors.  The Planning Director advised that the way to make the “proffers” or “conditions” enforceable was to include them in the zoning.  The City Attorney’s office confirmed this.

Now Collins has backed away from any agreement with the neighborhoods.  He  is going to use the 2008 siteplan and change the elevations (the way the outside of the buildings appear, but not the location or size of the buildings).   He can do this without going before City Council.

It’s a shame that Collins wasted so much of the community’s time with meetings, public and private, and once a deal was seemingly struck, he was unwilling to put it in writing and commit.  One can only hope that Mr. Collins treats the neighborhood and community in a manner in which he would want his neighborhood in Connecticut treated.

Pilot prints article on proposed Thrift Store and proposed Apartments

November 28, 2010

The following is the article that appeared in the November 28, 2010 Compass:

BY: Harry Minium

Wards Corner community leaders have big dreams for the drab commercial strip at the intersection of Granby Street and Little Creek Road.

Wards Corner Now, an umbrella group for civic leagues in the area, is pushing the city to recruit a Target or Kohl’s department store there.

So it was with some consternation that about 75 residents listened for two hours on Saturday as developers pitched, of all things, a thrift store and an apartment complex.

Little Creek Road is already replete with thrift stores, and Wards Corner has hundreds of apartments.

Developer Arthur Collins has proposed building 385 apartments in a project to be called the Landmark at Talbot Park. Located across Newport Avenue from the Fitness and Wellness Center, it would be an upscale apartment community that would attract high-income residents, he said.

Wards Corner community leaders, including Talbot Park Civic League head Jim Mc-Donnell, are skeptical.

Collins told the group that the apartments would have two swimming pools and a community center.   However, Wards Corner leaders said he has been hesitant to guarantee those amenities in writing.

Collins said his development would replace 190 units at the Riverside Terrace apartments, which he says are populated largely with low-income residents.   He said up to one-third of his tenants are delinquent on their rent.

Originally, he had planned to build condominiums there, but said the decline in the condo market makes that proposal unrealistic.

Collins needs City Council approval for his plans. Councilman Andy Protogyrou , who represents Talbot Park,  said he won’t support the proposal until it is endorsed by civic leaders.

Protogyrou has taken the same stance on plans for another thrift store in Wards Corner.   ForKids, a well-regarded charity that helps dozen of homeless families in Norfolk, has proposed running one at the southeast corner of Wards Corner.

The strip shopping center there is owned by Chris Perry, who is working with the city on redevelopment plans.

Vera Hartig, a parishioner at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, helped create ForKids, which began as an outgrowth of efforts to fight homelessness more than two decades ago.

The thrift store has the support of Mayor Paul Fraim, who said at the meeting that he’s in favor of the project, but his endorsement is predicated on the approval of area civic leagues.

Fraim said the thrift store would be “a short-term thing” until the economy improves to the point where Perry can redevelop his shopping center.

But Wards Corner community leaders Louis Eisenberg, Martin Thomas Jr. and Jim English said they are concerned that if the area is rezoned, another thrift store could open once ForKids closes. Currently, once a permit is approved for a thrift store, it can continue to operate even if ownership changes.

Fraim said he would ask the city attorney’s office to investigate whether the city could word the permit to expire once ForKids closes.

“I realize this is not Bloomingdale’s or Crate and Barrel,” Fraim said.

No it’s not, and Fraim has promised much to Wards Corner leaders.

Fraim campaigned for re-election five months ago pledging an economic revival of Wards Corner.   He kicked off his re-election campaign in a church at Wards Corner and had his campaign headquarters there.

Fraim said development will occur at Wards Corner when the economy improves.   “Good things are going to happen,” he said.

But for Wards Corner residents who have waited more than a decade for significant improvements, a thrift store and more apartments are not exactly welcome news.

Harry Minium, 446-2371, harry.minium@pilotonline.com

Thrift Store at Wards Corner on Agenda for this Saturday

November 17, 2010

Agenda for this Saturday’s Wards Corner Now meeting:

  • Proposed Thrift Store in Wards Corner Business District
  • Art Collins to present on his revised apartment community plan

Please attend and let your elected officials know how you feel about the two above proposals.  The meeting is this Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 8:30am at the Fitness and Wellness Center.

Collins to present at WCN meeting on Nov 20th

November 5, 2010
The Landmark at Talbot Park - Site Plan

The Landmark at Talbot Park - Site Plan

Art Collins, the developer of the proposed “Landmark at Talbot Park”, will present his new development proposal at the November 20th meeting of Wards Corner Now.  The meeting is at 8:30am at the Fitness and Wellness Center on Newport Ave.  Your attendance is requested.

WC resident comments on Collins’ new proposal

November 1, 2010

Sam Ross, a resident of Hariton Court adjacent to the proposed apartment complex, sent the following email with his comments on the proposed development.  The email was addressed to Jim English, president of the Wards Corner Civic League.

Mr. Collins will be presenting his new plan at the November 20, 2010 Wards Corner Now meeting.

Jim –

For whatever it may be worth the following represents my understanding of the meeting we attended at The Landmark At Talbot Park on October 20.

The presentation was well done, the architect and the developer expressed their problems quite well. It is probable that everyone would acknowledge now is not the best time to be trying to develop housing units for sale. Having held the property for four years or more without significant sales has to be a stretch on whatever corporate resources Mr. Collins has. Additionally, we all would agree that the existing in-place structures show their age and are in need of maintenance and management which would obviously increase their costs beyond reasonable levels.

In terms of aesthetics any change (even paint) would enhance the curb appeal of the older buildings. The renderings presented are far more pleasing and of more neighborhood value than the existing buildings so I do not believe the people’s problems have to do with either property improvement nor construction methodology.  Also the proposed changes to the ambiance of Newport Avenue would certainly be welcome especially as that shown in the provided renderings.

There are various advantages and disadvantages to the proposal that Collins should address as part of his presentation to the public. As I once knew of things the only thing that sells anything is the benefit received from the proposed change. Therefore the advantages to the project should be highlighted to inform inquirers as to what they will receive from the change. This has several key factors within it. People support things in which they feel they have had part ownership as well people support things that have been shown to benefit both parties in the transaction.

For these reasons I suggest Mr. Collins focus more attention on the following areas:

1. Rental versus Owner occupied structures.

As was discussed, there is the probability that as the mortgage market and realty    market change and improve over some period time there is the likelihood that  the         new units may convert, gradually, from rentals to condominiums.  There can be             no absolute guarantee of this nor should there be a    plan issued for this but the             probability is strong that Mr. Collins may, in the median future, want to recoup      portions of his investment through the sale of units as part of a Condo   Development as was originally intended.

If, as is probable the median income is $ 58,000 to $ 60,000 with a disposable        income on average of  $ 17,550 most leasing tenants may well qualify for      mortgages in an amount that would allow for sale of the properties at some future        point. This may well assuage some of the long term concerns of residents.

The upscale nature of the apartments would go a long way to insure tenancy of      longer-term renters and those renters that would care more for the condition of the property negating some of the angst of the single family residents. Nothing will            allay everyone’s fears but to present the issue that there is something to gain             (eventual property owners and better neighbors) should help the process

2. Density and increased Traffic

It would seem one of the predominant issues is the increase in traffic incumbent    upon the development of 376 dwelling units ( 12 existing new + 364 proposed).          This represents an increase of 144 units over the existing 232 apartments. Using            the numbers provided by Collins et al the existing units require .5 parking spaces    per unit while the proposed units require 1.66 per unit. One would assume the requirements are reflective of the probable number of automobiles in each unit.            Clearly then there are currently 116 vehicles existing and 624 proposed. So there      will be a five fold increase in vehicles with the development as presented. Additionally there seems to be (from the drawings) approximately 672 spaces   within the complex providing only 48 spaces for visitors and guests or about .13           spaces per unit. Obviously any overflow would have to be on Newport Avenue             which in many ways is over parked now. I would suggest that Mr. Collins needs    to address this issue directly. The traffic study that was done according to the    presenters indicated little or no change to the traffic which seems contra-indicated             by the numbers above.

If Mr. Collins could negotiate with the Senior Center, Norfolk Health and Wellness Center, Farm Fresh, Kroger’s, and Malcom Van de Water for combined use of a van or Jitney transport to and from these areas as well as a location such        as MacArthur Mall the concerns of some residents could be calmed a bit. It may    even be that several existing residents of single family homes might see this as an    advantage beyond what exists for them today. If such negotiation is not possible it    might be possible to work with HRT for a limited service vehicle to provide the      same service. If, as was said, a significant marketing effort will be undertaken for retired families this provision would have even more merit. In any regard there is benefit to the current residents in any proposed transportation improvement.

On a second issue. The fact sheet provided shows no increase in the number of      residents.  Using their numbers there are 232 apartments occupied by 500-600        residents. Using a mean between the numbers of 550 residents we would see that    232 apartments are occupied by 2.4 people per apartment. Using the same figures the proposal shows that the newly built units would be occupied by 1.46 people           per unit. This is not very rational and perhaps Mr. Collins should be a little more         reasonable in constructing his fact sheet when it comes to the number of people to    be served by the new units.

With 1.75 people per unit making  658 people resident we could easily say that      would yield $ 11,515,000 (658 x $ 17,550) in possible disposable income. Some           percentage of this money will find its way into the economy of Wards Corner.     That having been said whatever reasonable percentage is applied to this should      help in the process of trying to attract some anchor tenant or new construction of           retail space in and around the Granby/Little Creek area.

Coupled with this is the obvious increase to the City of Norfolk of $ 4000,000 or more in property tax revenue.  While not a direct benefit there is some reasonable            expectation that home owners taxes will not need quite as much of an increase in the future.

Finally there is impact on the use and services provided by the Health and Wellness Center. Recently, for financial considerations they reduced the usage of    their facility from 7 days per week to 6. An increase of 658 high median income            families should increase their membership and provide income for future    expansion of services regardless of the Norfolk City budget process. I wouldn’t think it to become totally self-sufficient but there would be less need for City    money if even 20% (131 people) were to join the membership. There may be             plans for an exercise facility in the proposed construction but it would seem           superfluous to add that since a more than adequate facility already exist within        two blocks of the site. Residents would obviously benefit from expanded hours and more programs.

3. Building Scale, Bulk and Mass

As was expressed in the presentation the buildings are, in this iteration, only three stories high. A rendering as if from Hariton Court as to the view of those        buildings would go a long way to reduce feelings of “just more apartments.” The         view now is not as pleasant as it could be if care in rendering a multifaceted           façade (ala Bolling Place) were provided. Perhaps a deeper setback with more trees of size and ornamental plantings would be something that could allay fears         of only seeing walls across the stream.

As was said the change in Newport Avenue is significant and must, in a     reasonable market, positively affect property values for the whole of the    neighborhood. It could be suggested that more discussion with Malcom Van de            Water take place to research the option of his redoing the east side of Newport to either match or complement the west.  It might not be necessary to undertake as     extensive a building plan as Mr. Collins  but rather to address only the area            fronting on Newport.  The maintenance of that area has always been well done             and seems to continue in that way but the buildings are of an age and style that     might be due for a change.

As we semi-discussed the façade fronting Newport could easily reflect subtle        difference from structure to structure. Such things as different roof lines, different     setbacks, different colors, different siding options, etc… This might eliminate a             little of the bulk and “row house” look that exists now.  The buildings are much             nicer than what exists but I would suggest that since they are to be new      construction anyway that as much variance as is possible without soaring           construction costs would enhance them even more.

As a conclusion I would offer that much of the negativity that has existed has come from expecting one thing and then being told something else. Mr. Collins is to be commended for his willingness to listen to the community and make provision for what he hears. No one likes to be forced into things so if these semi-benefits could help in any way he might more easily “sell” his concepts without seeming to force people into something that is based only on his business problem of having the property and not realizing enough income from it.

These are just ideas and concepts that arose during the meeting. If there are any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sam Ross

New proposal from Collins for The Landmark at Talbot Park

October 26, 2010
Landmark at Talbot Park

Landmark at Talbot Park

The following narrative and attachments have been provided by Collins Enterprises, LLC, the developer of the proposed “Landmark at Talbot Park”:

Project Summary & History
The Landmark is a redevelopment opportunity for up to 373 luxury housing units located on Newport Avenue and on the Lafayette River near the Wards Corner area in Norfolk.  The plan is to build a highly desirable residential community taking advantage of the river frontage, open space and natural features of the site with buildings designed to complement the architectural vernacular of the neighborhood.  The homes will consist of one, two and three bedroom apartments appealing to empty nesters, plus single and married professionals looking for a quiet, safe and exciting location in Norfolk.
The property is currently occupied by 200 two and three-story rental apartments built in 1948, 12 condominiums completed in 2008, and a vacant site for a planned 32-unit condominium building. The property is a 12.5 acre peninsula surrounded by the Crab Creek section of the Lafayette River. It is adjacent to the Granby Elementary School & High School, the Talbot Park and Wards Corner neighborhoods, five churches and the Bon Secours DePaul Hospital which has recently obtained approvals from the state health commission to replace the existing medical center with a 124-bed, state-of-the-art, acute-care, full-service hospital. The property is conveniently located near Wards Corner, the original commercial shopping district outside of downtown. Located across the street the Norfolk Wellness Center houses indoor pools and other public facilities that will serve all the neighborhoods as well as The Landmark residents.
Collins acquired the property in 2006 and demolished 32 of the existing apartments to make way for the first phase of condominium construction now complete. Of the 12 condos built, 10 have been sold since marketing began in 2008.
The project was approved as a Planned Development by City Council in November 2008 allowing a total density of 385 units and proffers limited to building characteristics, setbacks, open space, parking etc. Collins plans to finance the project as a luxury rental community due to current unavailability of financing for condominiums and predictions for continued strong demand for “rent by choice” high-end apartments.
Project Description
The Landmark will be a one of a kind luxury rental community in Wards Corner, the oldest section of Norfolk. The buildings will be three & four stories with on-grade parking and in garages. The apartments will be one, two & three bedrooms with some homes having lofts oriented to river views. The apartments will average approximately 1000 sq ft and will be merchandised with open floor plans, extra-high ceilings, elevator access and covered parking.  Interior features will include state of the art kitchens and baths, bay windows, terraces and moldings. All apartments will have security systems and will be prewired for home entertainment systems, emergency 911, and internet connections.
New rental housing in the Hampton Roads area has leased well despite the contraction in job growth in the region and the country. The demand for new, affordable and safe housing communities outpaces the supply. There are no new projects underway in this district and tenants will pay a premium for new construction. Average rent for The Landmark will be around $1200 per month.
The City of Norfolk and all of Hampton Roads from Williamsburg south to Norfolk has been experiencing strong growth over the last 10 years. Military consolidation from national base closings, population growth from retirees relocating and job growth in banking, technology and defense have help stimulate housing prices. With little land left other than infill locations like Riverside, the concern for added competition is minimized.
Project Statistics
Site Area:                                     12.5 acres
Gross Residential Area:        425,000 sf
Net Residential Area:             355,000 sf
# Units:                                        373 apartments
Stories, Height:                        3 & 4 stories
Covered:                                      60 car ports
Outside:                                        560 spaces
Total parking:                            620 spaces
Parking Ratio:                           1.66 per apartment
Apartment Breakdown
160 One Bedroom Units at 730 sq. ft.
160 Two Bedroom Units at 1010 sq. ft.
53 Three Bedroom  Units at 1285 sq. ft.
Project Timing
HUD processing:                      June 2010-June 2011
Construction Period:             Sept 2011- March 2012
Initial Stabilization:               June 2013
Review Letter from WRT (PDF)
Newport Ave rendering of The Landmark at Talbot Park (PDF)
Existing v. Approved v. Proposed – Comparison Chart (PDF)
Newport Ave, Before and After (PDF)
Traffic Study (PDF)
Traffic Study Appendix

“No New Apartments” signs available

August 16, 2010

Yard signs are now available so that you can let neighbors, City Council, and Mr Collins know that the current proposal for “The Landmark at Talbot Park” is unacceptable.

"No New Apartments" signs are available in protest Collins Enterprises LLC's request to build apartments rather than condos as originally promised

"No New Apartments" signs are available in protest Collins Enterprises LLC's request to build apartments rather than condos as originally promised

Opposition to Collins Enterprises, LLC’s proposal to build apartments on Newport Ave, rather than condos as originally promised, is growing amongst the Wards Corner community.  The four story proposal would change the nature and character of Newport Ave, the neighborhood, and the community as a whole.

To get your very own yard sign, please email us at wardscornernow@wardscornernow.com .  Be sure to send your address.

Proposed Apartments on Newport to go before Planning Commission

August 11, 2010

Collins Enterprises, LLC is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on August 26, 2010 at 2:30 p.m for their application to amend their site plan to build their proposed apartment building.  The Landmark at Talbot Park, a four story apartment building with 189 units, is proposed to be built on Newport Ave just north of Granby Elementary.

The property was rezoned in 2008 for  a high density multi-family development which was promised to be condos.  The developer’s recent quest to change the development to apartments has not been well received by residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the development.

All interested residents and citizens are encouraged to attend and voice their opinion.

The Landmark at Talbot Park - Elevation from Newport Ave

The Landmark at Talbot Park - Elevation from Newport Ave

%d bloggers like this: