Message to Norfolk City Council: Restore the funding to Wards Corner

April 19, 2013
WVEC Funding to help revitalize Wards Corner neighborhood slashed

WVEC Funding to help revitalize Wards Corner neighborhood slashed

WVEC is reporting on the reduced funding planned for the Wards Corner Neighborhood plan.  Their article and video can be viewed on their website.

I encourage you to contact City Council either by email or by attending the public budget hearing scheduled for Wednesday, April 24 at 6pm at Granby High School.  Their contact info is located on the City Council website:

The WVEC article:

NORFOLK — For years the City of Norfolk would allocate millions of dollars to revitalizing the Wards Corner area, but this year the funds are getting slashed.

City spokeswoman Lori Crouch says the City Manager was able to scrape and provide $750,000 for the proposed FY 2014 budget.

“The city is fiscally stressed,” said Crouch.

Here’s how the numbers break down:

Year                   Allocation for Implementation of the Wards Corner Plan
2014                  $750,000 (proposed)
2013                  $2,000,000
2012                  $1,000,000
2011                  $1,767,500

Less money being allocated to the neighborhood isn’t sitting well with residents, businesses owners or patrons of Wards Corner.

Martin Thomas Jr. says less money coming in now could jeopardize overall progress.

Previous funds were used to purchase and demolish blighted and crime-inducing properties in sections of Denby Park.  The City purchased 68 units in 2011 and demolished them in 2012. In addition, 37 apartment units were bought in 2013.  Once the tenants are relocated the units will be demolished.

Next year, a new shopping plaza featuring Harris Teeter is scheduled to open in Wards Corner.

Thomas is concerned if there is no effort in ridding blighted properties around the shopping center, it will have a negative impression on investors.

“If we can show those businesses that this is a nice place to open and you are going to get a good clientele, that effect will cause more and more redevelopment in the Wards Corner area,” Thomas said.


Next Wards Corner Now Meeting February 19th

January 13, 2011

Due to the Martin Luther King Federal holiday weekend, there will be no January meeting of Wards Corner Now. The next Wards Corner Now Meeting will be held on February 19th.

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.

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.


  • 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.

Wards Corner Now meeting Saturday, 8:30am at Fitness and Wellness Center

July 13, 2010

Remember that Wards Corner Now is having our meeting this Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 8:30am at the Fitness and Wellness Center.  Please plan on attending.  The Agenda is below.


A.  Presentation by Architect Roger Soto of ODELL Associates and Landscape Architect Keith Van Inwegen of Higgins & Gerstenmaier on the design of the new DePaul Medical Center

B.  An update on Norfolk Collegiate’s Fine and Performing Arts Center

C.  Other Business.

Pilot prints article on Wards Corner Now

May 23, 2010

The Compass section of the Virginian Pilot (May 23, 2010 edition) has an article on about Wards Corner Now and our group was created.  I cannot find the article posted online to link to.  Here are some notable portions of the article:

A new group, called Wards Corner now, formed in March with plans to supplant the partnership. Leaders of the new group said partnership leaders were too caustic in their criticism of the city.

The friction boiled over during a fractious meeting of Wards Corner leaders and city officials months ago that attorney Martin Thomas Jr., a Wards Corner resident, said was simply too toxic.

So Thomas joined civic league presidents Jim English and Jim McDonnell, realtor Louis Eisenberg, chiropractor Brad Robinson and others in leaving the partnership and forming Wards Corner Now.

“We don’t want to fight, we don’t want to bicker,” English said in explaining why he split from the partnership. “You don’t get anywhere that way and that’s where we were headed.”

Added Thomas: “There’s been a lot of negativity going on for about a year. City councilmen weren’t taking them seriously.”

Thomas and others established a website, held monthly meetings and injected themselves into City Council politics in a big way.

The group endorsed Andy Protogyrou in the Ward 1 council race. Protogyrou, a lawyer, defeated three opponents largely because of lopsided victories at Wards Corner area precincts.

“Wards Corner needs an advocate,” Eisenberg said, much like W. Randy Wright has been an advocate for Ocean View.

Wards Corner Now held its initial meeting in March and includes representatives of most Wards Corner civic leagues. Council members Theresa Whibley and Barclay C. Winn attended. Winn called the new group “a positive step for Wards Corner.”

Wards Corner Now: Positive Change for Wards Corner.

WCN Meeting Recap: Crosswalks, Planters, Light Rail, etc.

April 19, 2010

Wards Corner Now had a meeting on April 17, 2010 at the Fitness and Wellness Center.  As is customary with WCN meetings, the facilitator of the meeting is rotated month-to-month.  Dr. Brad Robinson was nice enough to head this meeting.  Topics covered were: Mayor Fraim, Blessed Sacrament, DePaul Medical Center, Norfolk Collegiate, Crosswalks, Planters, Light Rail, Upcoming Elections, and the Agenda’s for the May and June meetings.  Mayor Fraim was present as were City Council candidates Barbara Saunders and Andy Protogyrou.  Below is a short summary, nothing is verbatim.

Mayor Paul Fraim:  The meeting started with Dr. Robinson recognizing Mayor Fraim and asking him to address those present.  The Mayor spoke briefly about his campaign and indicated that he looks forward to things happening soon at Wards Corner.

Blessed Sacrament:  Jim McDonnell reported that Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church is undergoing a renovation and expansion of its social hall.  He expects this to be a nice addition to both the church and our neighborhood.

DePaul Medical Center:  The representative from DePaul declined to attend or provide any updates at this time as they are still in the conceptual phase.  It was reported that charette’s will be held and the surrounding residents will be invited.  The possibility of a traffic circle and a “medical campus” design were also reported by some of those present.

Norfolk Collegiate:  Mr. Kennedy, the headmaster of Norfolk Collegiate, was invited to attend the meeting and provide an update with regards to fundraising and construction of the new Arts center.  Unfortunately he had a prior engagement and he plans on being present at the May meeting.

Proposed Crosswalk at Granby Elementary

Proposed Crosswalk at Granby Elementary

Crosswalks:  Louis Eisenberg reported that he was approached by City Traffic Engineer, Guzin Akan, regarding the construction, or reconstruction, of crosswalks in and around the Wards Corner Business District as well as in front of Granby Elementary School.  He reported that a proposed crosswalk in front of Granby Elementary included “bump outs” where the road would be narrowed to two lanes.  The bumpouts are intended to slow traffic and to create an shorter and safer path for the children to cross.  This crosswalk is expected to cost $59,000.

Proposed Crosswalk Locations

Proposed Crosswalk Locations

In addition, Ms. Akan has identified seven (7) crosswalks in and around the Business District that either need to be added or reconstructed.  To reconstruct the crosswalks with the up-to-date resin product that would match what is located at the intersection of Granby and Little Creek Rd would cost $30,000 – $50,000 for each crosswalk.  The question posed by the City and by those present at the meeting:  Should the City spend money on the crosswalks now or later after construction has completed.  Some compromised solutions were discussed as well, such as just constructing some of the crosswalks now.

Example of "Resin" Crosswalk

Example of "Resin" Crosswalk

Guzin Akan will be at the Taskforce meeting on May 13 to further discuss her proposal.

Planters:  Joan Griffey offered a report on the planters that have been requested for the Business District.  She reported that the holdup is largely caused by the City Manager’s office.  She reported that the Mayor has agreed that we should receive the planters and that he does not believe residents should be required to sign a contract and maintain public planters.  The City Managers office, on the other had, is adamant that some person or group sign a contract to take care of the plants.

Light Rail:  Reference was made to the 2009 Hampton Roads Transit proposal running light rail through Wards Corner.  Both Barbara Saunders and Andy Protogyrou spoke about running light rail down Granby Street from downtown as a way to boost economic development in Riverview, at the zoo, etc.  Andy Protogryou suggested having someone from economic development come talk at the next meeting about the possible routes that light rail may take.

Upcoming Elections: Andy Protogryou and Barbara Saunders gave a short speech about their campaigns for City Council.  They will both be at the Wards Corner Civic League candidate forum on Monday, April 19, 2010 at the Fitness and Wellness Center at 6:45pm.  That will be the last forum scheduled forums for both of their campaigns.

May Meeting Agenda: The next councilperson for Ward 1, Representative from DePaul, Representative from Norfolk Collegiate, possible Guzin Akan.

June Meeting Agenda: Rick Henn?City Development to talk about Light Rail in Wards Corner.

Wards Corner Now holds inaugural meeting

March 21, 2010

The inaugural meeting of Wards Corner was held on Saturday, March 20th, 2010. The initial meeting of Wards Corner Now drew twenty-five folks from a variety of neighborhoods across the Greater Wards Corner (GWC) area , Norfolk City Council members Barclay Winn and Theresa Whibley and candidate for the Ward One Council Seat, attorney,  Andrew Protogyrou.  The hour-long discussion touched on the following topics:

  • AJ Gators – Move to the old Wherehouse Music store location will bring significant upgrades to the property.  Plans are for AJ Gators’ old location to remain open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but closing early.
  • Walgreens’ ABC license application – By consensus restrictions should parallel those for neighboring competitor – no single container sales.
  • Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan – Continue to place emphasis on addressing the issues in Denby Park while maintaining an eye on the additional plan areas of Titustown and the Wards Corner Business District.
  • Additional issues from individuals and civic leagues – safety concerns, illegal signage, school redistricting
  • Norfolk Address Information Resource – The link is on the Wards Corner Now site.  Norfolk AIR provides information on individual properties throughout the city.

Wards Corner Now will be focused positively on making a difference in GWC and meetings will continue to elicit concerns from civic leagues, businesses, churches, schools and individuals and providing support for moving forward with the Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan.  The topics for the next 2 meetings are:

April 17 – Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center and planned development

May 15 – Light rail

“Wards Corner Now” kicks off its inaugural meeting this Saturday March 20th at 8:30 am

March 17, 2010




Norfolk Fitness and Wellness Center Saturday,
March 20, 2010
8:30 am


• Opening remarks: Where we’ve been and, more importantly, where we are going!
• Update AJ Gator information
• Outline Walgreens issue
• Gather concerns/issues from Greater Wards Corner citizens (civic leagues, churches, schools, businesses, and individuals)
• Closing: Identify next topics/action items, provide link for Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan

   Everyone is Welcome.
Light breakfast to be served
We look forward to seeing you there!

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