Harbour View plan raises concernsPublished 10:55pm Saturday, July 21, 2012
Some Harbour View residents fear a mixed-use development on land between the cinema complex and the Bon Secours health center would cheapen the area and overburden roads and schools.Roy
During a Harbour View Owners Association meeting on Thursday, Norfolk-based Robinson Development Group revealed plans for 320 apartments, 280,000 square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of retail, and 120 hotel rooms, association Board of Directors member Andrew Sweet said.
The 62-acre site is where Harbor View Town Center was to be built — with 1,200 residential units, 500,000 square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail, and 364 hotel rooms — before the weak economy killed those plans in about 2008, Sweet said.
Although Sweet described Thursday’s meeting as considerably less than raucous, others present said many were angry that they had not been told of the new plans earlier.
“It was so crowded it was difficult for anybody to hear anything,” Regino “Ray” Lombre said. “There were so many people with questions, they couldn’t get to them all.”
Cheryl Fontes said that as the meeting progressed, the questions increased. “They were trying to be polite, but they were concerned,” she said. “Some people were getting impatient.”
Sweet said that while the original plans would have put an estimated 23,000 extra cars on Harbour View Boulevard per day, the new plan still would add 14,000 extra cars per day. Developers have proposed adding turn and acceleration lanes and traffic lights, but not widening the road.
One reason the plans were downscaled is the site’s close proximity to another planned mixed-use development on the former Tidewater Community College campus, along with other Peninsula town centers, Sweet said.
“What nobody wants to do is put in empty space,” he said. “The guys decided density (for the original plans) was too high,” and a lower-density project would be more feasible.
Lombre said Northern Shores Elementary School is already using trailers due to overcrowding. “Where would they put the additional students?”
Echoing his concerns, Carol Mitchell said a new school would need to be built “right there. My biggest concern is the number of rental units; it’s going to really overload this neighborhood. I moved here because I thought it was a more rural area. Now it’s building and building and building — that isn’t what I expected.”
Hillary Todd, a nurse at the health center, was more optimistic. “It’s a foregone conclusion now they’re going to do it at some point,” she said. “It sounded like they would do a good job.”
Halvorsen Holdings a company based in Boca Raton, Fla., is also involved in the planned development, said John Mason, property acquisitions manager at Robinson, which expects to develop the apartment complex if it clears the necessary rezoning.
City Planning Director Scott Mills stated in an email that a rezoning request has been received from Thomas Vincent on behalf of HVS West LLC. Attempts to reach Vincent and HVS were unsuccessful.
The request covers part of what was previously rezoned for Harbour View Town Center, Mills stated.
“Some ownership with portions of the properties that were covered by that rezoning has changed hands, and that is the portion of the project which we received this new rezoning application on,” he added. “Staff is currently in our early stages of review of this new rezoning request, and we are not close at this point to generating a staff report or recommendation on it.”
Sweet, stressing that he was speaking as an individual who had not formed a personal opinion on the plans, said the property owners’ association’s Board of Directors would discuss a formal response in August.
The developers are in the early stages and working with the city’s Planning Commission, he said, adding he was confident the city would plan appropriately to deal with any population boost.
He said the developers have done the right thing by reaching out to residents at the meeting.
“They could have just come and put it in.”