Archived Story

A better way to support historic Suffolk

Published 8:05pm Saturday, February 2, 2013

Just like clockwork, the announcement last week that a Kroger Marketplace is planned for a North Suffolk community resulted in an outpouring of jealousy and bile from the nattering nabobs of negativism who use every such announcement as another opportunity to spread discord and disunity in a city that still struggles for a common identity nearly four decades after the merger that created its current boundaries.

Their constant refrain of “Why does North Suffolk get all the good stuff?” coupled with their demands that the city bring a Target or a Trader Joe’s or a Chipotle to the downtown area also reveals an unfortunate lack of understanding of how economic decisions like the opening of a new retail establishment are made in a free market.

Aside from the zoning decisions they make and the broad outline drawn by Suffolk’s comprehensive plan, city administrators, City Council and other elected officials have very little to do with the locations retailers choose within Suffolk.

Economic development officials spend many hours working to attract a wide array of new retail outlets to Suffolk, and they have occasionally used enticements such as tax credits and grants to do so. But, with very few exceptions, those enticements are intended to bring the retailers to Suffolk, not to get them to locate in a certain area.

The companies’ site-selection officers take a look at the demographics of the city as a whole, of the surrounding communities and of neighborhoods within Suffolk and then choose a developable area where they believe a new outlet will help them meet their corporate goals, chief among which is profitability.

Nobody at City Hall is calling Kroger or Panera Bread or any other company and telling them they have to locate a store in North Suffolk or downtown or anywhere else, and the corporate executives wouldn’t pay much attention, even if they did.

There’s no question that historic Suffolk needs attention, and there are things that City Council and the city administration can and should do to show they’re renewing their attention on that important part of the city.

But every new retail announcement in North Suffolk does not prove city officials are intentionally favoring that part of Suffolk. What those announcements prove is that retailers see that area as the more profitable place for them to do business right now.

Instead of threatening to take their business to Chesapeake every time they hear one of those announcements, folks who love historic Suffolk and want to see it flourish can prove the viability of that area for business by shopping at the retailers located there and patronizing the many fine restaurants already open there.

That’s a much better plan.

  • Johnny

    Obviously city council cannot control the free market. However, they can certainly encourage the Krogers of the world by making South Suffolk more attractive by means of residential growth, tax incentives for building in more rural areas etc. South Suffolk is turning into a warehouse district and to suggest city council has nothing to do with it is naive.

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  • MrJiggyFly

    Mr. donarob,

    In reference to your first paragraph, blame your councilman. Y’all re-elected him. He’s probably taking a nap while much of your concerns are being discussed.

    Your second paragraph required more attention. Out of curiosity, I found a residential address on Westborough Dr which very close to the Bowers Hill cloverleaf. I took that address and with the help of both Google Maps and Bing maps, I found out the distance between Point A (Westborough) and Greenbrier Mall, Macarthur Mall and Harborview. The Sears at Greenbrier is 13 miles, the Nordstoms at Macarthur is 10 miles and the PetSmart at Harborview is a whopping 7 miles. Get your odometer fixed.

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  • Donald

    Mr. Spears,

    It would seem that you have missed the boat on many of the complaints offered up by those of us who admittedly are tired of seeing the growth continue in the northern region of the city. Understand that the growth is not limited to Kroger, Harris Teeters, and Pet Smart but also includes new Fire Stations, Libraries, Police Stations, Medical Facilities, non warehouse related business, etc…. Admittedly the Northern Area requires investment to include infrastructure as it is the growing area of the city due to its proximity to the other cities in the region where most of the employment resides. However it does get tiresome of watching the majority of the attention and benefits of my tax dollars go to the area for new when the same City Government provides “band-aid” fixes at best to my area’s infrastructure and providing me with more and more warehousing facilities, truck traffic, accidents, dilapidated schools because it takes 5+ years to decide where to build a much needed school, etc…

    Additionally the “Threat” of shopping in Chesapeake is not an anti Suffolk event, it is a Gas & Mileage event. All of Central and Southern Suffolk will make their way to Hwy 58 in order to leave the down Town Area the home of Wal-Mart, Lowes, & Belk. As they drive down 58 the closest major shopping areas are 1) Chesapeake Square Mall off of I-664, Green Brier Mall off of I-64, and Macarthur Mall off of I-264. All of which are closer than Northern Suffolk’s shopping district & Harbor View.

    Finally I will agree with you in that the City of Suffolk does not decide where businesses decide to buy and build. However they do have influence and incentives. They also have the opportunity to tap into tax revenue not only for the citizens of Southern Suffolk but also from Isle of Wright, South Hampton, and Many in North East NC who also travel up Hwy 58 to reach additional shopping venues other than WalMart, Belks, & ????

    Don Roberts,
    Suffolk, VA

    Suggest Removal

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