Downtown in the spotlight

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Downtown Suffolk will bask in the international spotlight next month.

When Norfolk hosts the International Downtown Association’s annual spring conference May 14-16, the more than 200 participants attending the meeting will also get a glimpse of revitalization activities in downtown Suffolk and Portsmouth.

&uot;Suffolk has a fabulous downtown and could be a great learning laboratory for our visitors,&uot; said Cathy Coleman, executive director of the Downtown Norfolk Council. &uot;It will be particularly helpful so people coming from smaller downtowns can see how much can be accomplished.&uot;

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The visitors will take a bus to Suffolk, where city officials will update them on the downtown development. They will then take a tour showcasing key features of downtown: the Hilton Garden Inn and Suffolk Conference Center, loft development, restored office buildings and the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

The guests will then travel by bus to Portsmouth, where they will have a waterfront lunch and get briefed on that city’s ongoing revitalization efforts. A walking tour through Portsmouth will end with a 10-minute ferry ride to Norfolk.

Elizabeth McCoury, the city’s downtown development director, expects the visitors to be particularly interested in the amount of preservation work and the number of successful public-private partnerships in downtown.

&uot;This is a great opportunity for Suffolk to get some exposure and recognition,&uot; she said. &uot;We’re looking forward to it.&uot;