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City evaluates bids for open space project

The city of Suffolk is evaluating bids to provide design and engineering services for the former Tidewater Community College Portsmouth Campus located on College Drive.

According to Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes, the city received eight bids to do the design work for the space. Suffolk is working in partnership with the Tidewater Community College Real Estate Foundation to develop about 1.3 miles of waterfront on the 300-acre parcel into a public open space.

“The goal is to have walking trails and/or sidewalks tie-in, from the Point at Harbour View to College Point (TCCREF site) and the waterfront. This will be finalized as each site is designed and constructed. We work closely and coordinate often with TCCREF on our collective sites’ development plans,” Hughes said.

The bids are still under review, and the city anticipates the project to be done in phases. There is no definite timeline for the project, according to Hughes.

“We are taking a slow, methodical approach. The bid is to align ourselves with an engineering consultant,” said Hughes. “There are so many factors for the development. We want to build as the TCC Foundation develops as well, and you have all the impacts related to waterfront development. Finally, the former Nansemond Ordnance Depot has intricacies involved as well.”

Sitting on the James River and being the location of the former Nansemond Ordnance Depot will require interactions with federal, state and local government agencies.

Since a bid has not been accepted, there is no definite cost for the project.

“The Request for Proposal that bids have been received for, and are under review, is for consulting and design services. The design work will occur over the next 12 months. As that design progresses, we will have a better idea of potential amenities and the cost associated with them,” Hughes said.

The goal is to make 1.3 miles of shoreline on the James River accessible and enjoyable for the public.

“We want to get a good quality project that wraps all three into the spectrum. It’s a little tedious, but it’s important,” Hughes said.

“It really has the ability to be a tremendous opportunity to open up a unique public gathering space, and it can be a catalyst and a complement to the development. It is such a dynamic piece of property,” Hughes said. “Many have enjoyed the area through the years, and have often thought of it as a park for public enjoyment. The ULI study performed in 2011 took that background and put some polish to the concept that it could well serve as an anchor for the redevelopment of the entire site, and an amenity for the entire region.”

Editor’s Note: Only the 1.3 miles of shoreline on the 300-acre property will be developed as open space, not the entire parcel. An earlier version of this story contained an error.