Development near airport leads IDA talk

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

A strategy for developing the area surrounding the Suffolk Executive Airport was the primary topic of discussion at Wednesday’s meeting of the Suffolk Industrial Development Authority.

Councilman Bobby Ralph told IDA members that council members had been &uot;getting pressure&uot; about the pace of development around the airport in the wake of infrastructure improvements that have been made.


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&uot;The business community seems to feel we are dragging our feet out there,&uot; Ralph said.

Among the improvements that have been made to the area are the extension of a potable water main, the completion of the Southwest bypass and plans call for construction of a sewer pump station. The land has also been rezoned.

&uot;If the airport is there, let’s take full advantage of it,&uot; Ralph said.

Finance Director Christine Ledford noted that she and Public Works Director Eric Nielsen are members of an airport commission that will be addressing development issues. She suggested the IDA appoint representatives to the commission.

IDA members generally agreed that it’s a prime area for development.

&uot;We’ve got a great asset out there in the airport,&uot; IDA Chairman John Harrell said. &uot;I think the question is how we get some development.&uot;

City Manager Steve Herbert told IDA members that it makes a

lot of sense to begin now to put together a comprehensive look and suggested that city staff make a presentation at a future IDA meeting. IDA members Dwight Nixon, Vernon Williams and the Rev. Isaac Baker agreed to sit on the committee.

In other business:

nTom O’Grady, director of the department of Economic Development, reported that New Dominion Pictures had fulfilled all of its obligations under its Development Agreement with the IDA and recommended IDA members sign a deed of release with New Dominion. A motion was made and carried.

nAfter an executive session, Authority members voted to sell 1.19 acres of property it owns off Virginia Ham Drive to Tony Collins of Access Development. The property is adjacent to property Collins owns that he plans to develop into office and warehouse space and possible mini-storage.

nDowntown Development Director Elizabeth McCoury announced that renovation of the Professional Building is progressing on schedule and that the school board is expected to move in on Dec. 19.

nMcCoury also noted that representatives of the Virginia Preservation Alliance will be in Suffolk Sunday afternoon to take a walking tour of downtown.

The IDA’s next meeting will be on Dec. 10.