City using ‘Harbour View’ for marketing

Published 12:45 am Sunday, May 25, 2014

What’s in a name?

Part of the city’s continuing effort to market the North Suffolk area to potential developers now includes using the name “Harbour View” — which previously referred to a specific development — for the entire area.

Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said the department hopes to create a vibrant image of the North Suffolk area.

“We’re just looking at a marketing campaign, really, to promote commercial development in the area,” he said. “What we’ve found in our day-to-day actions is the Harbour View name has a good ring and some branding to it already.”

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Hughes stopped short of calling it a re-branding of the entire area, however. He said the moniker could help tie together different areas of North Suffolk, including the 55-acre site on College Drive owned by the Economic Development Authority.

“When we started to begin the master planning process for the EDA site, we wanted to promote not just our site but the entire area,” he said. “It’s our goal to compete in the metro area with some of the established commercial areas.”

Names of areas like Chesapeake’s Greenbrier can help promote not only new development but also shopping at the development once it’s completed.

“We think Harbour View has the ability and the name recognition to do that,” Hughes said.

Using the term “Destination Harbour View,” Hughes’ department is marketing the area to a number of retailers. The College Drive site is known specifically as “The Point at Harbour View,” highlighting its central location in the Hampton Roads area.

“We wanted to give it a little more pizzazz,” Hughes said.

The department is working on the master planning and development of the College Drive site, Hughes said. They’re in the early stages of interest from a couple of different users.

However, he added, the marketing of that site is currently in pause mode as they wait to see what’s going to happen with the potential relocation of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s district office, which currently sits on North Main Street. The city and the General Assembly have asked VDOT to study moving the office — the city is eyeing it as prime redevelopment land — and the transportation department has expressed interest in having several different offices on one campus.

However, VDOT wants some maintenance uses on that campus that may not be an ideal fit for the site.

“I think we would like to have the opportunity, as a landowner, to see what fits and what doesn’t,” Hughes said. “Probably some of the industrial use wouldn’t be appropriate, but some of the office space would be.”

In the greater North Suffolk area, Hughes said a name like Harbour View could help attract more development. Some might think the area doesn’t need any help doing so, but Hughes disagrees.

“I can tell you we’re actively pursuing retail users, and it doesn’t come easy,” he said. “Nothing just falls in your lap these days. You’ve got to scratch and dig for these things, because competition is thick.”

Office space is another consideration, he added.

“Retail’s great, because we want to be through of as a retail destination, but we also want to have the jobs that complement the retail growth,” he said.

The Navy cyber commands and the Joint Staff, as well as medical office growth, have contributed to the growth, he said.

Hughes said he doesn’t anticipate the marketing campaign affecting other aspects of life in North Suffolk, such as expanding the Route 17 taxing district.

“We haven’t defined a line,” he said. “We’ve still got some room to fill in land up there. We’re trying to be strategic about it, and we want to be aggressive, too.”