What’s next for North Suffolk

Published 9:52 pm Monday, October 15, 2018

There’s more on the horizon for North Suffolk residents and developers as a pair of exciting prospects were outlined at the October Luncheon held at the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center last Tuesday.

More than 70 people attended the event held by the Hampton Roads chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women, or CREW. The CREW Network Real Estate Women is an association for women in real estate that has chapters throughout the United States focused on networking, as well as social and educational programs.

“We’re very excited to showcase local developers,” said Alyssa Embree, Williams Mullen partner and CREW Hampton Roads president.

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The showcase on Tuesday for Suffolk’s The Point at Harbour View and College Point developments was conducted by Suffolk Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes and Tidewater Community College Real Estate Foundation Executive Director Matthew Baumgarten, respectively.

The two sites are adjacent in the Harbour View development corridor and both represent what will be coming to that waterfront area in years to come.

“We’ve been working very closely with the Tidewater Community College Real Estate Foundation to make sure we take advantage of that beautiful piece of property on the James River and Monitor-Merrimac,” Hughes said in his presentation of The Point at Harbour View.

The Point at Harbour View is located near the College Drive exit off I-664 and is considered a premier site for development due to its central location in Hampton Roads, easy interstate access and proximity to the waterfronts, according to yessuffolk.com.

“Though not a Town Center, we definitely want to bring in some good Town Center type of amenities and development themes throughout it,” he said.

The EDA site features 55 acres zoned for mixed-use development to attract an array of commercial applications, including retail, hotel and residential projects. It sits between Harbour View and College Drive in what the EDA has coined to be “the middle of the metro.”

The Point is about 32 miles from Virginia Beach’s Town Center, 12 miles from Olde Towne in Portsmouth and just nine miles from downtown Newport News. It has the capacity for 300 apartments, 100 townhomes, a hotel pad site and a 75,000-square-foot class A office building with great visibility of I-664, according to Hughes.

“It really is strategic with the advancements and expansions of the roadways and the tunnel systems in Hampton Roads,” he said. “It is a great, strategic location.”

The corridor is already a hub of activity with TowneBank’s Harbour View Boulevard campus, the Joint Staff Suffolk base off College Drive busy with Department of Defense activity and the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center run by Old Dominion University off College Drive.

In August, the Virginia Department of Transportation moved 250 staff members from downtown to its new Hampton Roads District headquarters at 7511 Burbage Drive.

There is also a pair of Certificate of Public Need requests that are being considered for approval for new North Suffolk hospitals built by Bon Secours and Sentara Healthcare, respectively.

“We’re excited to see hopefully the state approve both of those, and see their expanding opportunity up in northern Suffolk,” Hughes said.

The EDA has already paved the way for future developments by installing a roundabout at the intersection of Harbour View Boulevard and College Drive. The roundabout is considered the best traffic solution for the Point based on analyses conducted by traffic engineers.

“We’re setting ourselves up for success on this one,” Hughes said.

The TCC Real Estate Foundation is also preparing for success right next door with 245 buildable acres at College Point, according to realestate.tcc.edu.

The foundation plans to create a destination for both residents and non-residents that’s rife with research and development activity, entertainment, dining, residential options and offices for corporate or medical needs.

But first, cleanup efforts need to be finalized for the former Army Pig Point Ordnance Depot that was located on the site.

The military stored ammunition on the 975 acres of waterfront property at the end of College Drive during both world wars. The land was used as a disposal area for bulk explosives, small arms ammunition and scrap metal, and burial pits at the site still contain hazardous material from decades ago.

Removal activities have been conducted at the site since 1984 — digging, cleaning, removing, studying and restudying again, Baumgarten said. But recent strides have pushed forward cleanup effort, including sampling for soil contamination and removal of that contamination from the site.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers recently made the site a top-five priority in the nation to be cleaned up and delisted, Baumgarten said.

The foundation is expected to finish current cleanups efforts in the fall and then submit reports to the Army Corps of Engineers for further review over the winter, and a national call for proposals for development ideas for the property is expected to be issued mid-2019.

The city of Suffolk issued a request for proposals on Oct. 3 for firms to provide design and engineering services for a James River Shoreline and Open Spaces Project at the College Point development.

Baumgarten said the project is still in the early stages but is aimed at restoring about 400 feet of lost shoreline at the site since the ordnance depot was first established decades ago.

“The intention right now is to create a living park, a sort gathering for people in Suffolk and all of Hampton Roads to come out and see it,” he said.