Wards Corner Task Force meeting minutes – April 2014

April 13, 2014

Thanks to Karen Mayne for the following meeting minutes from the April 10, 2014 meeting:

The Greater Wards Corner Task Force Meeting

April 10, 2014

Council Members Barclay Winn, Andy Protogyrou, and Terry Whibley, and Mayor Paul Fraim were present.

Police Reports

Future police reports will include the entire area of the Greater Wards Corner Task Force so that neighborhoods will know what is happening throughout the area.

Public Art

Karen Rudd, Manger of Norfolk’s Cultural Affairs, provided an overview of the artist who was selected to design the public art for Wards Corner.  Gordon Huether of Napa, California, will come to Norfolk in several weeks to look at the area and meet with the public arts selection committee and the developers of K&K Square and Midtown Shopping Center.  The City has allocated $150,000 for the project, which should take about a year to complete.  The City’s public art program is funded through donations and from a set-aside of 1 percent of all Capital Improvement Projects over $500,000.  Norfolk leads the way in the region in its support of public art projects.

Public Works

Karen Mayne reported on a meeting between the Norfolk Right-of-Way/Transportation staff and task force representatives.  The group discussed traffic congestion and signaling around the intersection of Little Creek and Granby Street.  Traffic engineers will wait to see how traffic moves through the intersection at the new K&K Square before deciding whether to turn the right northbound lane on Granby Street at Little Creek Road into a right turn only lane.  There is concern that doing so could create a hazard to pedestrians.  The new traffic light that will be installed on Little Creek Road between the K&K Square and Midtown Shopping Center should help with traffic in that area.  It was requested that the City consider reestablishing the audio-visual crossing signal for pedestrians at that light, but the FHWA has new rules that may make such a signal cost prohibitive.  The issue of illegal left turns coming out of Virginian Drive onto Little Creek Road has no structural solution due to the narrowness of the road; enforcement is the best solution.  The City will be repairing/replacing the faux-brick crosswalks with a new and stronger material.

Department of Development

Sam’s Club will rebuild at the old K-Mart property after demolishing the building.  Wal-Mart is proposing a gas station as part of this project.

The Albano’s Cleaners in Titustown on Little Creek Road is closing.  The company is restructuring its business.  A new Albano’s will be at K&K Square.

The demolition of the Denby Park properties acquired by the City last year was delayed by the winter weather and should be completed in May.

Community Reports

The rezoning of the Talbot Hall property to allow for the construction of 14 private homes and roads will go before the planning commission on April 24.

Dr. Barbara Laws of Norfolk Public Schools has been named the 2014 National Supervision/Administrator Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association.  The award recognizes exemplary contributions, service, and achievements of art educators.  (Dr. Laws also serves on the committee that selected Gordon Huether for the public art at Wards Corner.)  Congratulations, Barbara!!


Taskforce Meeting minutes from September 12, 2013

September 18, 2013

Thanks again to Karen Mayne for the following minutes:

 

The Greater Wards Corner Task Force Meeting

September 12, 2013

Council Members Barclay Winn and Terry Whibley were present.

Police Reports

Police reports for Wards Corner precincts will be given to the task force in written format rather than announced by a police officer.  This will allow the Community Resource Officers to focus their time on attending civic league meetings for more in-depth discussions of issues of concern to the neighborhoods.

Department of Development

Suburban Park Shopping Center Update – The shopping center will have a new name:  K and K Square at Wards Corner.  This name will honor Kenneth and Katherine Perry, who founded the original shopping center.  Harris Teeter is ahead of schedule on construction, with a possible opening date of February 2014.  All spaces in the shopping center are leased except one at the southern end.  It is hoped a local eatery will lease the space.

The BP gas station on the northeast corner is under contract by a developer, who is looking for an end user (not another gas station) with a potential building space of about 4000 square feet, plus on-site parking.  One potential lessor is 7-11.  The civic league representatives agreed that they are not interested in having a 7-11 at this location.  The asking price for the property is $750,000.  The group discussed the possibility of the City purchasing the property for a small open space for the public art that is planned for Wards Corner.

Update on Budget Priorities

The City has allocated $1 million for the current fiscal year for Wards Corner redevelopment efforts.  For the past three years, the priority has been to use the annual allocations for acquisition of blighted properties in the Denby Park.  The task force confirmed that acquisition of properties in that area remains the priority.  It will take about $4.5 – $5 million to finish acquisition of blighted properties.  Demolition should begin soon on the properties the City acquired last year – all required demolition permits have been received.

Update on Norfolk Southern Railroad

It was clarified that Norfolk Southern does not have plans to expand a storage yard adjacent to Terminal Boulevard.  There are, however, additional container trains coming to the port, which sometimes back up in that area for loading and unloading at Norfolk International Terminal.

Community Reports

The Public Art Committee for Wards Corner has a Request for Proposals out for artists to submit ideas for a public art concept for Wards Corner.  Proposals are due to the committee in October.

The Suburban Acres Civic League submitted requests to the City’s traffic division regarding through trucks on Virginian Drive, and parking on both sides of the 100 block of Suburban Parkway in the vicinity of Norfolk Collegiate.  The civic league would like the “no through trucks” signs restored on Virginian, and a return to single-sided parking on Suburban Parkway.  The civic league is also concerned about an exterior light that has been out on Suburban Park Elementary since spring.  No action has been taken despite a Norfolk Cares request.

Suburban Park Elementary needs a new American flag – the old one was removed last year and not replaced.

Parking on the grass at residences along West Little Creek Road is of ongoing concern.  Police will look into this enforcement issue.

The lighting situation in the Wards Corner Shopping Center is a safety concern to the public and police.  Most of the parking lot lighting is turned off at about 9:00 pm, even though Dollar Tree is open until 10:00 pm.  The Department of Development will talk to the owners of the shopping center and Rite Aid about leaving the lights on until all stores are closed.

The City will host a Front Porch Summit for civic leagues on October 19th at the Southside Aquatics Center.


Wards Corner Task Force meeting minutes – June 13, 2013

June 17, 2013

Thanks to Karen Mayne for the following minutes:

The Greater Wards Corner Task Force Meeting

June 13, 2013

Council Members Barclay Winn, Andy Protogyrou, and Terry Whibley, and Mayor Paul Fraim were present.  Mr. Wynter Benda was introduced as the new Assistant City Manager who has been assigned to the Wards Corner area.  Mr. Benda can be reached at 757-664-4263.

Talbot Hall Update – Jay Taylor

Talbot Hall is up for sale by the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia for $4.25 million.  Harvey Lindsay is the listing agent.  The private non-profit organization, Talbot Hall Foundation, is working with the Diocese and Harvey Lindsay to raise funds to purchase the property for permanent protection.  The Foundation hopes to raise funds through a public/private partnership using grants and donations.  It also envisions establishing an endowment to maintain the property using historic and environmental easements that would be sold for tax credits.  The Foundation hopes the City will contribute towards the preservation of these 8 acres of waterfront property on the Lafayette River and plans to make a presentation to City Council regarding its proposal.  Task Force members agreed to discuss at the next meeting (September) as to whether the City should dedicate any of the Wards Corner funding towards the acquisition and protection of Talbot Hall.

Department of Public Works

Tidewater Drive Infrastructure Improvement Projects are getting underway along the section between East Little Creek Road and Roland Park.  A handout was provided with the various types of improvements and timelines, which are scheduled to continue through the winter of 2015.  For more detailed information, go to www.norfolk.gov and type in the keyword:  Tidewater Projects.

Virginia Natural Gas continues to replace sections of its underground lines in the City as part of its statewide program to ensure the reliability and safety of its pipelines.  VNG works closely with the Department of Utilities on these projects.  The Granby Street Project is nearing completion.  Three upcoming pipeline replacement projects in the vicinity include the East Little Creek I Project, the West Little Creek II Street Project, and the Louisiana Drive Project.  The City provided a handout that explains the VNG program and local projects.  This information can be found at the City’s website at www.norfolk.gov using the keyword:  VNG.

Utilities – Sewer line replacement projects continue in the area and are close to being finished.  Utilities will soon be starting on the replacement of a 20” water main along the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks adjacent to I-564.  Norfolk Southern has constructed a new siding along the area.  City Council representatives requested more information about this rail siding at the September meeting.  Concern was expressed about impacts to the neighborhood to the south of the railroad siding.

Department of Development

Suburban Park Shopping Center Update – The City will be starting on the road changes at Granby Street and Louisiana Drive, which will include a traffic signal and turn lanes.  The HRT bus stop will be removed.   The road construction, along with gas line replacement work by Virginia Natural Gas, and undergrounding of the power lines by Virginia Power, will be timed to be completed for the opening of the shopping center in 2014.  Construction has started on the Harris Teeter portion and will soon start on the rest of the buildings.  The issue of the sidewalk right-of-way along Little Creek Road was discussed again.  Suburban Asset Management has agreed to talk with the City about moving the sidewalk away from the road for pedestrian safety.  SAM’s landscaping plan is currently under review by the City.  A question was raised as to whether the former audio-visual crosswalk system between the north and south side of Little Creek road will be replaced.  The City said there is not currently funding in the Utilities program for its replacement, but that residents can request it for possible future funding.

Dollar Tree has leased and started renovations on the site of the former China Buffet.  Since Wards Corner was the site of Dollar Tree’s first store, the company plans to make this new store their flagship.

The City is still talking with the owners of the Farm Fresh property about the demolition and redevelopment of the old building beside the store.  The property is up for sale but is not being marketed.  The City hopes that a small shopping strip or restaurant could go in this site, which fronts on Admiral Taussig Boulevard.  It was mentioned that lighting of the Farm Fresh parking lot needs to be improved since some people are hesitant to shop there at night.  The parking lot also floods in some areas and needs repaving.

Sentara has lease the former ATC Fitness site on the southeast corner of Wards Corner and plans to develop an urgent care facility.

Community Reports

The Denby Park/Cottage Row/Oakdale Farms community will be the site of the August 6, 2013 Night Out event in Norfolk.  The theme will be “Growing a Better Community.” The civic league is looking for volunteers and sponsors. Those interested in helping should contact LaCrystal Locks at 757-348-6739 or RJ Luce at 757-404-8072.

 


Task Force meeting notes

February 17, 2013

Thanks to Karen Mayne for providing notes from the February Wards Corner Task Force meeting:

Department of Public Works – John Keifer

The road work at Louisiana and Granby Street should start soon and is scheduled to be completed at the same time that the Suburban Park Shopping Center opens.  There will likely be lane closures on Granby while the work is underway.  There will be two turn lanes from Louisiana onto Granby and one turn lane southbound from Granby onto Louisiana.

DPW will discuss the proposed I564 expansion project next month.

DPW looked at the school zone lights on Thole Street at Suburban Park Elementary and will move the lights on the east end to encompass Norfolk Christian upper school the next time the lights need to be replaced.  There is no indication when that might be.  Mr. Keifer said the structures are usually replaced about every 10 years.

The parking on Suburban Parkway at Norfolk Collegiate should go back to single side parking once the construction on the arts center is completed in March/April.  Marsha Lockard raised the question as to whether there would be a parking problem on Granby Park during evening events at the arts center.  John Keifer said the civic league could work with his department on this issue.

I raised the issue of additional street lights along Virginian Drive and Galveston Boulevard after the case of prostitution in that area.  John Keifer said to contact him regarding additional street lights.

Contact for John Keifer is:

Director, Department of Public Works, 757-664-4614John.keifer@norfolk.gov

Department of Development – Mike Cutter

The following businesses have signed leases for the Suburban Park Shopping Center:  Harris Teeter, Towne Bank, Albano Cleaners, Great Clips, Subway, Starbucks.

Department of Utilities – Ken Turner

The water line will be replaced along the section of Tidewater Drive between Easy Street and Thole Street.

Police Report – Odell Davis

NPD is assisting with crossing guards at Norfolk Christian upper school.  The NPD is working with Suburban Park Elementary (and all the schools in Norfolk) to assess school safety and security after the shootings at Newtown, CT.  Changes are expected in access during the opening hour of school, and vehicle access for parents on Thole Street may also change.


Wards Corner Taskforce meeting minutes from January 10, 2013

January 13, 2013

Thanks, as always, to Karen Mayne for the following minutes.

Greater Wards Corner Task Force Meeting – January 10, 2013

The meeting was led by Councilman Andy Protogyrou. Council representatives Terry Whibley and Barclay Winn were also present.

Suburban Park Shopping Center Presentation

Chris Perry of Suburban Asset Management (SAM) provided an overview of the status of the redevelopment of the shopping center. Site demolition is complete and they will start on infrastructure construction very soon. Due to the good weather, the project is ahead of schedule. SAM plans to turn over the concrete “pads” to Harris Teeter and Towne Point Bank in April 2013, who will then use their own contractors to construct their portions of the shopping center. SAM will use Hoy Construction to build the remainder of the shopping center, which will include space for 9 to eleven retailers. If the weather remains cooperative, SAM hopes construction will be completed in 9 to 10 months from April.

SAM would like to find a restaurant to fill in the southern-most space in the shopping center, where outside seating would be possible. They encouraged task force members to spread the word and make recommendations on the names of any restaurateurs who might be interested in locating there.

Department of Public Works Updates – John Kiefer

The City will undertake a major reconstruction of the underpass and adjacent ramps at the junction of Tidewater Drive and Little Creek Road at Southern Shopping Center. They considered changing to an at-grade intersection, but that cost would be several million dollars more that maintaining the underpass. The project is planned to start in January 2014, will take 8 to 10 months to complete, will require major road closures for about 4 to 5 months, and detours for the four on/off ramps for about 10 to 14 weeks. While the road work is under construction, the Department of Utilities will also replace underground utilities along the section of Tidewater Drive south to Thole Street. DPW is planning to make presentations to the civic leagues in the area to explain the plans and detours.

Department of Development Updates – Mike Cutter

The owner of Mid-Towne Shopping Center has hired a new real estate broker and is negotiating leases, although no names were given. There are plans to renovate the parking lot during warmer weather in the spring.

The City is considering extending the grant program for business façade improvements to the Wards Corner area. This would allow this corridor to be eligible for matching grants.

A question was asked as to whether there will be a Dollar Tree store in the Wards Corner area.  There will not be one in the new Suburban Park Shopping Center, but there is a possibility that there could be a Dollar Tree in one of the other two shopping centers on the north side.

Department of Utilities Updates – Ken Turner

Sewer replacement projects around the area are on schedule and several sections will be completed in the next several months, after which the City will continue with sewer line replacements in other sections.

Police Reports

Crime statistics for the area in December continued to show a decline from last year, which is a trend seen around the City. The president of the Denby Park civic league thanked the Norfolk Police Department for their work and said that crime numbers in Denby Park are down.

Community Reports

The group again discussed the school zones along Thole Street. The Norfolk Police have started providing traffic control assistance at the Norfolk Christian Upper School, and the City has installed larger school zone signs that are easier to read at both ends of the Norfolk Christian school zone. Councilman Protogyrou asked that the Department of Public Works provide information at the February meeting regarding the possibility of moving the overhead flashing school zone light at the western end of Suburban Park Elementary School further to the west to also encompass Norfolk Christian.


Greater Wards Corner Taskforce Meeting Notes – October 11, 2012

October 12, 2012

As always, many thanks to Karen Mayne for keeping notes:

Greater Wards Corner Task Force Meeting – October 11, 2012

The meeting was led by Councilwoman Terry Whibley.  Councilman Barclay Winn was also present.

Department of Public Works

Utilities Undergrounding at Wards Corner – The City worked with Virginia Power to get cost estimates for the northeast quadrant of the Corner.  The cost to underground the utilities along Little Creek Road from Granby to the railroad tracks would be $1.5 million.  The cost to underground along Granby Street from Little Creek to the railroad tracks would be $90,000.  The group agreed that adding in the section along northeast corner of Granby Street to the work at the southeast section (which was $160,000) makes sense, so both projects will be considered at this time.  Public Works said that the anchor pole on the southeast corner could not be removed since it is needed to support the pole on the northeast corner.  They will continue to explore whether there are other options for that pole and will report back at the November meeting.

Sewer Line Projects – Work continues around the greater Wards Corner area and will involve more lane closures over the next few months, including some closures on Little Creek Road west of Wards Corner.

Granby High School — Assistant Principal Thomas Smigiel reported on issues related to truancy at the school.  Granby High is not an “open campus” and students cannot leave the school unless they have a pass.  Authorized reasons are:  the early release program for students who do not have afternoon classes; GED students who are in school until 11:30 am; and cooperative education students who leave the campus at 1:30 pm for jobs.  The school administration is working to address the truancy problem and there has been a 75 percent reduction in truancy at Granby since last school year.  Citizens are invited to a town hall meeting at Granby High on November 8 from 6:00 – 7:00 pm.

Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Community Collaboration Center — Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Linda Bryant spoke about the new Community Collaboration Center recently opened in the Norfolk Workforce Development Center.  This new concept will provide a satellite office to increase victim support, community education to adults and students about the legal system, and criminal code compliance.  The area of focus will be a one to two mile radius around the Center, which includes the Wards Corner area.

Department of Development

Suburban Park Shopping Center – Removal of asbestos has slowed down progress on demolition.  The Perry Building should be coming down soon and the rest of the structure after that.

Mid-Town Shopping Center – Construction work on the new façade should be completed by the end of October and blue awnings are being added.  New tenants should be announced in the future.  It is hoped that the parking lot will be improved.

Farm Fresh – Representatives of Farm Fresh presented drawings of their plans for a drive-through pharmacy.  It will be located where the current pharmacy is.  The company is negotiating with the property owner to repave the parking lot.  Civic league representatives brought up the need for additional lighting in the parking lot.

Other News – The Pancake House has received their ABC license.  The copy store in the same area recently closed.

Department of Recreation, Parks and Open Space – Shawn Krawetzki presented a drawing of a new playground to be built at the Norfolk Fitness and Wellness Center on Newport Avenue.  The playground will be next to the tennis courts.  A request was made for additional benches in the design.

Police Report – Lt. Coghlan reported that crime remains low in the area – mostly larcenies and shoplifting from businesses.  He reported that the vice squad was notified after last month’s task force discussion of prostitution in the Wards Corner area, but they have not found anyone.  He said that if the public sees what they suspect to be prostitution, they should immediately call the police and inform the dispatcher that it is suspected prostitution so that the police will respond quickly.

Community Reports – Jim McDonnell reported that Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church is reopening after the arson fire in May.  Over $3 million has been spent to repair the church.  Royster will hold a hymn festival to celebrate the restoration of the pipe organ on October 30 at 7:00 pm.

New Business – The discussion of school crossing lights at Norfolk Christian Lower School on Granby Street was delayed until the November meeting.


Wards Corner Now meeting minutes from July 17, 2010

August 2, 2010

Wards Corner Now had a meeting on July 17, 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 Martin Thomas, Jr., chaired this meeting.  Topics covered were: the initial phase of the DePaul site master plan and the new Norfolk Collegiate arts center.  In addition, short updates were made on the status of the following items: Denby Park, Talbot Hall, Walgreens, the proposed Collins Enterprises project and AJ Gators.  Over forty-five area residents attended the meeting, including City Council members Barclay Winn and Andy Protogyrou.  Below is a short summary, nothing is verbatim.

Bon Secours DePaul Hospital Initial Design Phase

Jim McDonnell introduced Roger Soto, president of the design group working on the development of the Bon Secours site.  Mr. Soto indicated that a master plan is in its early stages of development but that there is an immediate need for the construction of a medical office building to house doctors’ practices and a comprehensive, freestanding cancer center which would be one of the first in the region.

In the development of the master plan Bon Secours plans to engage with neighborhood groups in much the same way as they did in Richmond while planning for St. Francis Hospital.  A master plan charrette occurring in approximately 2-3 months will be part of this process.

The medical office building will be constructed in the current parking lot as close to the hospital and as far away from Ridgley Rd. as possible.  Currently there are 2 openings on Ridgley which would be closed and everything would be oriented to Kingsley Lane.  The edge bordering the neighborhood would be enhanced.  There will be no visible mechanical plant and Mr. Soto indicated that the design company is working on a neighborhood-friendly solution to trash.

The shape of the building is determined by the function of the cancer center and will include an entrance water feature and healing garden.  The 4-story building has a step down on the Ridgley Road side with the intention of more easily integrating into the neighborhood.  The cancer center will include a café, meeting rooms and chapel which will be open to the community when not in use.

Norfolk Collegiate School Fine Arts Complex

Councilman Andy Protogyrou introduced Scott Kennedy, headmaster of Norfolk Collegiate School.  Mr. Kennedy reviewed the Norfolk Collegiate Board of Trustees’ commitment to remain connected to the community and to remain in their current space.  As part of the ongoing strategic building plan, a fine arts complex will be built in the area of the medical building adjacent to the Granby Street property.  The complex which will provide arts experience instructional areas for students much of which will also be available to the community.  The vision for this space includes a 456-seat theater and secure galleries.

Updates

  • Denby Park – The potential for Denby Park to become a baseball and athletic complex was brought forward again at the Wards Corner Task Force meeting.
  • Talbot Hall – The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia is putting together a task force which will seek input from neighbors and local parishioners and make recommendations to the diocesan Property Committee.  The final recommendation committee recommendation date has been pushed back to the beginning of 2011.
  • Walgreens – The hearing for an application to sell alcohol has been rescheduled for August.
  • Collins Enterprises – No information has been received yet.  We are waiting to hear from the developer.
  • AJ Gators – The goal for opening the new location in the first part of August.  Civic leagues will be notified of any special activities.

Additional Items of Interest

  • Councilman Andy Protogyrou – With the goal of maintaining the focus on Wards Corner, Councilman Protogyrou has requested of the City Manager a meeting with all city departments for a report all activities related to the area and is eliciting questions for the departments.
  • Beautification Concerns – A concern was raised regarding the condition of the crepe myrtles planted along the city easement on West Little Creek Road from Tapley Avenue east through Titustown.  The Thole Street medians were also mentioned as an area which needed attention due to being unkempt.
  • ATC Fitness – ATC Fitness is moving to the northwest corner of Wards Corner.

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