EDA site ready for growth

Published 10:38 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Economic Development Authority on Wednesday reviewed measures the city has taken to help make its 55-acre site in North Suffolk more marketable.

The site, located near the juncture of Interstate 664 and College Drive, has been surveyed and cleared of some smaller trees. Crews now are in the process of developing master plans, a traffic impact study and design guidelines, said Kirsten Tynch of Woolpert Inc., which is working on the project.

The land was part of a 2011 study by the Urban Land Institute. It also included about 389 adjacent acres owned by the Tidewater Community College Real Estate Foundation. The expert panel recommended a mixed-use development that merged office, commercial, hotel, residential and public space uses.

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The first phase of infrastructure improvements, including stormwater management ponds, is expected to cost the city about $3.2 million, Tynch said.

Tynch showed several conceptual site plans. One featured a “signature hotel” near the southern corner of the site, where it would be most visible from the interstate.

In another concept, a more business-centric hotel would be located at the back of the site, serving the local businesses and offices that eventually locate there.

“It’s not really a destination hotel, so it doesn’t really need to be visible from the interstate,” Tynch said.

The water features and tree stands that remain on the site will be located near the roads, Tynch said.

“It will set you apart from the other types of office parks that are more stuck with barren land,” she said.

Authority member Dwight Nixon said he wants to see more vertical growth on the site.

“We’ve been building horizontal for the last few years,” he said.

Tynch cautioned that the possible height of the buildings will depend on the results of the geotechnical survey. But Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes was optimistic.

“If somebody wants to build high, we will build high,” he said. “I promise you that.”

Hughes said he already has discussed the site with potential developers and clients. He also remains in contact with the managers of the TCC site, he said.

“We have frequent conversations so they know where we are,” he said. “We don’t want to paint anyone into a corner.”

Infrastructure improvements could begin as early as July 2014.