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Use this money wisely

EDITORIAL

Development of one of Suffolk’s most coveted pieces of property is about to begin, and while it won’t result directly or immediately in good things for the depressed downtown area, the city as a whole will benefit greatly from the sale of 45 acres at The Point at Harbour View to a Virginia Beach developer.

The city’s Economic Development Authority voted this week to sell all but 10 acres of the property, which is adjacent to the former Tidewater Community College campus in North Suffolk, at a price of $4.5 million.

The money will come in handy, as the EDA can use it as an investment to spur development in other parts of the city.

But in the long term, development of the site will likely produce far more than a few million dollars of tax revenue. If the success of the nearby Harbour View area is any indication, those taxes will become an important part of the city’s fiscal portfolio, helping to support not only the roads and other infrastructure around the new development but also other needs around the city.

Gee’s Group, the buyer, has a head start in North Suffolk, having built the Riverfront Shoppes, where the popular TASTE Unlimited eatery is located. Its experience in Harbour View gives the company a leg up on others that might have sought to develop the property at The Point.

In fact, thanks to action previously taken by the EDA, Gee’s Group already had begun marketing the property in advance of signing the final sales agreement. With the help of CBRE-Hampton Roads, the project’s exclusive brokerage and marketing firm, the developers should be able to quickly build on the recent boom in construction in that area.

This isn’t the announcement that many people in downtown and historic Suffolk have been waiting for, but it’s the announcement that will do the city as a whole the most good in short term. By selling the property when the market in North Suffolk is still hot, the EDA helps ensure that Suffolk gets top dollar for it and that the city continues to ride the crest of the wave of retail and commercial development that has swept up so much of North Suffolk’s real estate.

What would make this news even better would be for the EDA to announce that it will use the proceeds from the sale to do something that would help attract a supermarket or some similar traffic-generator downtown. Not that we need the traffic, but the added commerce such a project would bring to that area would be a godsend.