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.


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.
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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.
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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
.
Parking
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
.
Attachments
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


Wards Corner Now meeting minutes

June 21, 2010

Wards Corner Now – June 19, 2010

Wards Corner Now had a meeting on June 19, 2010, at the Norfolk Fitness and Wellness Center.  As is customary with WCN meetings, the facilitator of the meeting is rotated month-to-month and Louis Eisenberg chaired this meeting.  Topics covered were: the proposed Collins Enterprises revised plans for the site where the Riverside Terrace apartments are located; Talbot Hall, Southeast Virginia Episcopal Diocesan Center; and AJ Gators update.  Forty area residents attended the meeting, including City Council member-elect Andy Protogyrou.  Below is a short summary, nothing is verbatim.

Landmark at Talbot Park and Proposed Construction at Riverside Terrace – Rick Anderson, representing Collins Enterprises, reviewed what has occurred thus far on the property – 1 condo building and the reconstruction of one street.  The proposal involves developing apartment buildings housing 189 units along the front of the property facing Newport Avenue and reserving the rest of the property for condo units.  Rationale for this proposed change – from an all-condo site – is as follows:

  • It took 2 years to sell 9 units in the current building.
  • Riverside Terrace Apartments are 60 years old and require extensive maintenance.
  • Current income is at or below break even.

Mr. Anderson indicated that this is a HUD insured loan and a market rate project.  A one-bedroom apartment will rent for just under $1,000 and the renter would have to make $30,000 in order to qualify.  A three-bedroom apartment would rent for about $1,500 a month and minimum income would be $50,000.  There would be 189 apartments with people making more than double the current tenant income level.  Property amenities would include common area meeting rooms and exercise facilities.  It was suggested that to be Class A, a pool and tennis courts would need to be included also.  Demolition would beginning the 1st quarter of 2011 and the building would be finished the 3rd quarter of 2012.

The four-floor project would be similar in appearance to the one on Bolling Avenue.

Mr. Anderson indicated that Collins representatives had met with members of the Wards Corner Task Force regarding concerns and that the company was willing to implement part of it.

Past City Council member Conoly Phillips, as a resident of another Collins Enterprises apartment, Heritage at Freemason Harbor, spoke in favor of the proposed project.

Numerous concerns, suggestions and questions were raised by meeting attendees, including the following:

  • The proposed plan is a major change from the original plan.
  • The density will negatively impact the surrounding neighborhood.
  • This area is not downtown and projects that work there would not necessarily work in the Wards Corner area.
  • While there may be the best of intentions regarding income qualifications, the possibility of several unrelated folks renting together could bypass the requirement and would exacerbate density problems.  Mr. Anderson indicated that Collins has control over how many people live in apartments and that management and maintenance folks would check.
  • The area is inundated with low rent apartments – 17 within a .5 mile radius – and the neighborhood does not need more.  Instead, we need more established residences.
  • We have a vision for the area – and a comprehensive plan – and this project does not fit that vision.
  • Collins Enterprises needs to slow down and look at best choices for the long term; wait and do it right the first time.
  • One suggestion is to start with the waterfront and build single family homes first.  Then as financing is freed up, build condos along the front.
  • Another suggestion is to look at building luxury housing for seniors.
  • A concern was raised regarding assurances that the plan for the rest of the property would not change.  Mr. Anderson responded that folks could rely upon the word of Collins Enterprises that it would not.
  • Neighbors who own homes which back on to the proposed project have concerns regarding the impact the shift from condos to high density apartments would have on their quality of life.
  • Another factor in the difficulties surrounding the sale of the current condos – and those in building 2 – is their location with regard to the Riverside Terrace Apartments.  In addition, if the new apartments are built, the density would restrict the ability to sell upscale condos behind them on the property.
  • The problem is that Collins Enterprises focus on the bottom line is not balanced with community needs.
  • One member explained that it was not development in general – or Collins Enterprises in particular – that was being opposed but the current project proposal.

The Wards Corner Now attendees then discussed next steps:

  • Changes must go to Planning Commission and City Council for approval.
  • We as a community have to show a groundswell of opposition to support Commission and Council votes against the changes.

For the record a vote was taken.  Unanimously, the 40 meeting attendees were opposed to the new Collins Enterprises proposal and support retaining the original plan or something better – i.e., single family housing.

An additional next step would be to hold a charrette with all interested parties present so that representatives from Collins Enterprises would be fully informed about what the community wants and needs.

Adjacent homeowners need to contact the Planning Commission to ensure that the homeowners are informed when action is being taken to change site plans.

Talbot Hall – Jay Taylor, resident of Talbot Hall neighborhood, discussed concerns related to the possible sale of  Talbot Hall, which belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Virginia.  A diocesan Property Committee has been formed to decide what to do with the property.  With the sale and possible development is the threat of loss of the 1803 historically significant house which is on the property as well as 8 acres of land and of the impact on the wetlands.  The Property Committee has stated that they are interested in a solution that is good for both the diocese and the community.

A neighborhood ad hoc committee is taking the opportunity to put together recommendations and needs assistance.  A Facebook page, Save Talbot Hall, gives additional information.

The diocese is holding 2 town hall meetings at 6:30 pm in the Church of the Ascension on Talbot Hall Road:

  • Wednesday, June 30
  • Thursday, July 15

The ad hoc committee is requesting the attendance of  Wards Corner Now members at one or both of the meetings.

AJ Gators – Anticipated opening of the AJ Gators on the southeast corner of Wards Corner is anticipated to be in late July or early August.  The existing AJ Gators will be changed, renamed and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Look for the grand opening announcement.

Faith-based Partners – The pastor of the TAB Church was in attendance and Louis Eisenberg recognized him and asked him to assist us in eliciting the participation of other faith-based partners.

July Meeting Agenda Items: Talbot Hall, Collins Enterprises and Norfolk Collegiate Updates


Collins applies to build apartments rather than condos

June 11, 2010

Collins LLC, the developer of WestPort Commons (formerly known as WaterMark) on Newport Ave, just north of Granby Elementary, has applied to the City for a siteplan change.  The application is being made because Collins wants to build apartments rather than condos.  Collins blames the market for condos and condo financing on the need to change. The original siteplan called for six small condo buildings closest to Newport Ave and three larger condo buildings closer to the river.  One small condo building has been built thus far on the northeast corner of the property.  The change in siteplan will need to be approved by City Council.

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

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

The application that has been filed indicates that Collins wants to combine four of the original small condo buildings into one large apartment complex.  The apartment building will be situated against Newport Ave.

Collins Apartments - Collins now proposes putting a large apartment building where four small condo buildings were to be built

Collins Apartments - Collins now proposes putting a large apartment building where four small condo buildings were to be built

The apartments are to be called “The Landmark at Talbot Park”  and will include 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units.  As currently planned the apartments will not include a pool, tennis courts, or a clubhouse.

The Landmark at Talbot Park - Elevation from Newport Ave

The Landmark at Talbot Park - Elevation from Newport Ave

Collins presented their proposed plan at the May Wards Corner Taskforce meeting.  Some concerns that have been pointed out by those in attendance are: lack of amenities (pool, clubhouse, tennis courts), the appearance of one large, long, 4-story wall on Newport Ave, that Collins promised condos but now wants apartments, and the lack of greenspace.

The portion of the property closest to the river is not being developed at this time and the siteplan for that are will more than likely change in the future.

Please see our July 11, 2008 article titled “WestPort Commons Update” for information about the original plan for the development.

Representatives from Collins will be at the Wards Corner Now meeting on June 19, 2010 at 8:30am at the Fitness and Wellness Center on Newport Ave.  If you have questions or concerns regarding this development, please attend.


WestPort Commons website has gone live

September 30, 2008

The WestPort Commons sales and advertising website has gone live.  You can reach it by going to http://www.westportcommons.com/

Visit and learn about the one of the newest neighbors to the Wards Corner Community.


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