The following are some quick updates from the Wards Corner Task Force meeting held on September 11, 2014 at the Fitness and Wellness Center.
The new mast arm poles and traffic light signals at W. Little Creek Rd and Armfield Ave will be installed by mid – late October.
The new mast arm poles and traffic light signals at E. Little Creek Rd and the new Harris Teeter shopping center will also be installed by mid – late October.
Wards Corner Business Association:
A Wards Corner Business Association has been re-started thanks to the work and dedication of Elyse Kalfus. The first meeting was held on August 19th and 14 of the businesses in Wards Corner were represented. Top priorities of crime and trash were mentioned.
A cleanup has been arranged with the Norfolk Sheriff’s department and the Business Association is in touch with VDOT on cleaning up their portions of Wards Corner as well.
Norfolk Southern has also been contacted and has agreed to do a cleanup of their property in Wards Corner.
Kroger / Workforce Development Center property:
Everyone was reminded that the City has an option to purchase this property that was built into their lease for the Workforce Development Center. This option comes up in 2015. If the City has not found a development partner by then, the City needs to step up and purchase the property to preserve it for appropriate future development in the corridor.
City Council has decided that Task Force meetings across the city will move to either quarterly or a every-other-month schedule. The Wards Corner Task Force will move to every-other-month with the next meeting to be held on December 12, 2013. Other notes from today’s Task Force meeting are below. Thanks as always to Karen Mayne for providing the notes.
Greater Wards Corner Task Force Meeting – October 10, 2013
The meeting was led by Council member Andy Protogyrou. Council members Terry Whibley and Barclay Winn were also present.
Talbot Hall Update
The non-profit Talbot Hall Foundation conducted a survey and determined that it is unlikely the Foundation can raise $4.25 million dollars to purchase the Talbot Hall property from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. The Foundation is working with the Diocese and Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate to achieve residential development on part of the property while still preserving the historical and environmental values of the manor house and property.
The Police Department has given out tickets for parking on the grass along the 100 to 600 blocks of West Little Creek Road. The police have also asked the City’s codes compliance office to look into whether property owners have permits for the driveways.
Department of Development Updates
BP Gas Station Update – Nothing new to report. The property is currently under contract and the developer is seeking an end user (not a gas station) for a 4000 square foot retail center.
Wards Corner Shopping Center – The parking lot lights are manually turned off around 9 p.m. Dollar Tree remains open until 10 p.m. The lack of lighting is creating a safety concern for customers and employees. Property owners will place the lights at the Wards Corner Shopping Center on an automatic timer. Canopy lights were replaced.
It was requested that the City prune the crepe myrtle trees along the section of Virginian Avenue between Louisiana and Little Creek. Now that the new sidewalks in this area are complete, limbing up the overgrown trees will allow safe passage of pedestrians and the disabled.
Denby Park Demolition
The City acquired 308, 317, 319, 321 and 325 East Little Creek Road; 328, 334 and 338 Fort Worth in support of the Greater Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan. Demolition is scheduled to begin on October 21st with a timeline of 30-60 days.
Public Art Update – The Request for Proposals for the $150,000 public art for Wards Corner is out. Proposals are due byOctober 31.
Norfolk Christian – City Council has approved the closure of the portion of Seekel Street surrounded by Norfolk Christian Upper School.
Norfolk Collegiate – The issue of parking on both sides of Suburban Parkway in the vicinity of the school was discussed. Officer Odell Davis said he is recommending the removal of about five parking spaces at the western end of Suburban Parkway on both sides of the street in order to improve turn radiuses for buses and improve safety of pedestrians and vehicles.
The issue of replacing the hanging traffic lights at East Little Creek Road in front of the Taco Bell with mast arm poles was discussed. There are only two hanging traffic lights along Little Creek Road between Hampton Boulevard and Shore Drive, this light being one of them. The Task Force has discussed this for at least six years as part of the beautification of the Wards Corner area. A request was made that this be considered for future capital improvement funds. No resolution on the matter since funding would be expensive and take away from the funds being used to acquire the blighted properties in Denby Park. It was pointed out that a mast arm was not installed at this light due to long-term plans for redevelopment of the surrounding area.
Another concern is the utility poles that have been on the ground in the area of Tucker House at Armfield and W. Little Creek.
City Council has decided that the various community task force meetings around the City should happen either bi-monthly or quarterly in order to alleviate workload on City staff. Interim communications between the face to face meetings would continue among the representatives on these task forces via e-mail. The representatives of the Greater Wards Corner Task Force indicated they would like to meet bi-monthly. The next meeting will be December 12, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Be reminded that the Wards Corner Task Force meeting this Thursday, January 10, 2013, at 8:30AM at the fitness and wellness center. This meeting is open to the public. The agenda currently includes:
1. Suburban Management Updates – Chris Perry,
2. The Department of Public Works Updates – John Keifer, Director of Public Works
3. Development Updates- Charles Rigney, Interim Director of Development
4. Utilities Updates – Ken Turner, Engineering Manager, Department of Utilities
5. Police Reports & Community Reports
6. New Business
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.