Getting it just right

Published 10:49 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Suffolk officials have asked for help with marketing the site of the former Obici Memorial Hospital. Considering the potential importance of the property as a connection between the busy area west of the Kimberly Bridge and the burgeoning developments near the intersection of Godwin Boulevard and Route 58, redevelopment of the former Obici site is definitely important enough to warrant that help.

The city’s Economic Development Authority voted last week to hire Kimley-Horn and Associates to provide about $132,000 worth of services that will help put Suffolk in a better position to market the property. In their agreement with the company, city officials stated that they hope to sell portions of the property to multiple users, thereby creating a mixed-use development featuring commercial, retail and multi-family residential properties.

The site is located at 1900 N. Main St. Set to include about 27.5 acres of re-developed land, it has sat vacant for more than a decade after the hospital moved its operations to Godwin Boulevard and razed the old building. Several attempts to redevelop the property have failed, including one in which a company bought it and then failed to launch the movie theater-anchored shopping center it had proposed.

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Kimley-Horn’s partnership on the project will provide the city with a proposed site layout, a public facilities report, a water quality impact assessment, an analysis of fiscal impacts to public services, a traffic impact study, a soils report, an environmental site assessment, wetlands mapping, development of design guidelines, assistance in preparing the rezoning application and attendance at various meetings and public hearings.

Those services will help ensure the property gets the attention from investors that it deserves, and they will ultimately help Suffolk ensure that it gets the best buyers available for what should be one of the city’s top three or four commercial/retail locations.

Lots of folks who do not live in the northern end of Suffolk thumbed their noses recently when Taste Unlimited announced plans to build a new location in Harbour View, frustrated that historic Suffolk would miss out.

The Obici development is central Suffolk’s best shot at an upscale development like the one planned in the north. Suffolk officials were smart to seek the help of development professionals to ensure the city gets the Obici site just right.