What is the idea behind this plan?
This is a new kind of development for the city that will provide high-salaried businesses and upscale retailers with the unique environment needed to provide goods and services here. Essentially a business park for 21st century jobs, it will be a different level of civic design, more activity-oriented, and broader in scope and feel than any other area of the city. It will have a pedestrian orientation, round-the-clock use, and both commercial and residential elements in close proximity.
Why is the city interested in achieving a different type of development?
Number one, there's tremendous potential here to contribute to the quality and variety of our city and to increase our tax base. When you look around for well-located land for commercial development, this piece stands out.
Number two, the Pembroke area is very dynamic; in other words, it's not going to stay the way it is now. It's either going up or it's going down, in quality and in value. It's quite possible the Pembroke area could decline because of the advanced age of some of the buildings in the area. If we do nothing, and just let it age, we're likely to see deterioration in quality and in value, and the tax base will be eroded.
Granted, the real estate assessments for the area as a whole continue to rise, but this might have less to do with the current value than with the potential value. The opportunity to do something positive in Pembroke is what continues to drive those property values higher.
Why should the city use public funds for this project?
The significant economic benefits of developing this property at our desired level of quality-and, in all probability, preventing its decline-will not occur without public participation.
The project is the most recent example of the city creating an economic development park. Past examples, like Oceana West Corporate Park, have provided needed sites for quality job growth and have contributed significant benefits to all taxpayers.
The public role here is no different than in previous parks: assembling the land and building the necessary streets, utilities and other public improvements. The city is not subsidizing the private buildings proposed for construction. In fact, the private development-through the Tax Increment District and a Special Tax District-will repay the city for the land and the construction and the operation of the public parking structures.
Will this become "downtown" Virginia Beach?
The Town Center project is not the same as the historical notion of a "downtown" area. When you study cities and what caused them to form, you'll see that downtown areas, as we know them today, were all formed by pressures and forces that don't exist now.
One of Virginia Beach's strategies is to look at the northern part of the city and to identify the areas that have the most potential for fostering economic vitality, and to be active in stimulating desirable development in those areas, while maintaining the unique characteristics of the other parts of the city. The areas with potential for higher levels of development are the oceanfront, the Lynnhaven Parkway corridor, Pembroke and the Northampton Boulevard area.
Therefore, while the Town Center won't be a traditional "downtown," it will be an exciting, high-quality, identifiable focus and gathering place for Virginia Beach citizens.
The Town Center project fits in with the Comprehensive Plan
It produces economic vitality, creating wealth in increased land values and capital investment in private infrastructure as well as new jobs at a variety of skill and income levels.
It produces a unique development form, a departure from the sameness of the past. It uses private-sector initiative coupled with a revised set of development standards designed especially to produce a high-quality area.
Through a creative public-private partnership, we enable the private sector to strive forward to higher quality and higher levels of investment, and the public reaps the benefits of that effort.
By intensifying development in limited areas in the northern part of the city where it is appropriate to intensify, we reduce pressure on our land use patterns that call for preservation of open space and rural uses in the southern part.