East Washington starts to shine

Published 12:05 am Saturday, March 20, 2010

It is refreshing to now know the long-awaited Fairgrounds development is inching ever closer to becoming a reality.

After nearly a decade of stalled progress, project redesigns and governmental wrangling, it appears now the residential and retail development planned for the area near East Washington Street may actually happen.

With Wednesday’s vote by the Suffolk City Council to sell the 4.1 acres of land west of the new Health and Human Services building to Associated Contracting Services Inc., it should not be long before ground can begin to be broken for more than 30 homes tht are planned for the property.

Along with the redevelopment plans for the former Phoenix Bank building and the remarkable East Point Plaza development orchestrated by Tom Powell, the East Washington Street corridor may be one of the more exciting redevelopment projects in all of Hampton Roads.

Already featuring distinguished eateries, retail shops galore and public parking, the East Washington Street area truly has its best years before it.

Once the center of the city’s manufacturing and agricultural processing establishment, the area had fallen into hard times over the past decades. Buildings had shown their age, beginning to crumple, and future development projects looked bleak.

But that is no longer the case. Thanks to the development dollars of both public and private investors, this area of downtown Suffolk stands as an example of what can be accomplished when city leadership and private developers work together.

As this Fairgrounds project now gets under way, we challenge the city to look into other areas of Suffolk that could benefit from the time and attention of those with a penchant for improving communities. They should use this area of East Washington Street as an example of what patience and perseverance can truly accomplish.