Community turns out for Harbour View meeting

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Suffolk community had the opportunity to talk to economic development representatives about the upcoming development, The Point at Harbour View, on Tuesday evening.

A community night at The Hub 757 on Bridgeway Drive attracted more than 100 community members. The room was set up with easels forming a semi-circle showcasing possible plans for the new development.

“We are looking forward to it, because it’s future business for us,” said Pam Perry, management at the Courtyard Marriott. “A lot of the businesses are within walking distance.”

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Some of the community members shared the same sentiment for having closer options than the ones they currently have near them.

“I’m excited. I hope they start tomorrow,” said Earl Pierce, a Suffolk resident. “It would be nice to have closer restaurants, instead of having to drive to Chesapeake Square.”

Councilman Lue Ward also attended the event, and Ward expressed his excitement for the event and the development.

“It’s a great turnout. This community, they get involved,” Ward said. “Everything looks good. It’s got everyone talking.”

Guests were given markers to write possibilities for the new development on a whiteboard. Some of the suggestions included restaurants, fitness centers and parks.

Other suggestions were geared toward the possibility of housing in the development. One suggestion read “few apartments or none.”

While excitement about a new development, some residents worried about how the development would turn out.

“I don’t want another Town Center or City Center,” said Wendy Hosick. “I want something different.”

Hosick’s brother, Bill Mahnken, described his feelings towards the new development as “lukewarm.”

Both agreed that they would like to see something different and exciting happen at The Point.

The development company working with the project, Gee’s Group, was also in attendance to help answer questions for the public.

“We like the area, and the current comprehensive plan says that we are doing exactly what we have planned,” said David Gianascoli, Gee’s Group partner. “We hope to have a village center. A small area to live, work and play.”

Gianascoli was adamant that some type of housing is essential to The Point being successful. Having housing in the development offers “more than a building in a field,” according to Gianascoli.

During the community meeting, economic development representatives walked around and answered questions from the citizens. Kevin Hughes, director of economic development, fielded questions about the potential retailers that may make The Point their home.

“We are marketing to a number of retailers, but we aren’t zoned yet,” Hughes said. “It’s a balancing act.”

There have been no commitments made regarding what retailers will fill the space.

With the community meeting done, plans can be made to move forward with the rezoning application. The application has to be taken to the Planning Commission, where the public has the opportunity to voice input, and once the commission makes a recommendation, the application will be taken to City Council.

“We are hoping to go to the Planning Commission next month, and if all goes well we can go to City Council in March,” Hughes said. “But at any time, it can take longer. March is the best case.”

If everything moves forward as planned, development plans could be introduced in the fall of this year, according to Hughes. This plan would most likely include multiple phases spanning over at least three to five years.