EDA sells part of Obici Place

Published 9:55 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Economic Development Authority on Wednesday voted to sell more than eight acres at the front of the Obici Place site to a commercial real estate developer.

As apartment buildings continue to rise from the ground on the rear half of the site, the front portion, which has been planned as commercial development, is now soon set to get off the ground as well.

“We’re excited to bring new retail and office tenants to the central part of the city,” said Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes.

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The purchase price will be about $2.5 million, Hughes said — about $300,000 an acre. The property encompasses 8.368 acres.

Commercial Real Estate Services and the Ellis-Gibson Development Group — soon to become the same entity — are purchasing the property, said Mike Culpepper, president of Commercial Real Estate Services. Some of the companies’ other projects in Hampton Roads include Red Mill Commons in Virginia Beach, Edinburgh Commons in Chesapeake, Marketplace at Hilltop in Virginia Beach and Venture Apartments at Tech Center in Newport News.

“We look forward to starting marketing as soon as we have a signed contract,” Culpepper said. “Suffolk is a great retail market, and we have high hopes for the project.”

The Economic Development Authority approved the move unanimously — save for the absence of Sleepy Hole Borough representative Raymond Wittersheim — after meeting in closed session for more than an hour.

Culpepper said the market looks ripe for retailers new to the market to move in. Nearly 600 Suffolk citizens responded to a survey last summer requesting new and unique retailers, entertainment venues, high-end grocery, locally owned businesses and more.

The survey came after six months of public debate over the plan for the site. A vocal group of citizens advocated for a park, but the City Council decided in June that the plan for apartments and retail would go forward.