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Opportunities abound in North Suffolk

Suffolk is a growing city with plenty of opportunities for businesses and developers.

That was the message stressed during the Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate’s Thursday luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn Chesapeake/Suffolk off of Harbour View Boulevard.

More than 100 people turned out and heard city Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes tell them of numerous businesses making investments in Suffolk, which he said is expected to see a 60-percent population increase by 2045.

About 5,800 active housing units are proposed, he said, and this year, Hughes said he anticipates about 1,000 new units in North Suffolk receiving certificates of occupancy this year.

In particular, three mixed-use properties are in various stages of development.

Chandler Cutwright, marketing director for BECO Asset Management LLC, outlined the company’s history in Suffolk, noting that it built and manages the Harbour Breeze Apartments, Harbour Breeze Professional Center, Harbour Breeze Estates Phase I and II.

BECO Asset Management, she said, has recently began construction on the two-story Harbour Breeze Medical Center, a 26,000-square-foot facility expected to open in April 2020, with Pariser Dermatology to occupy the top floor.

She said its first foray into mixed-use development at Bridgeport will feature upscale boutiques and residences, unique dining, office space and an outdoor entertainment venue. It is located at the intersection of Bridge Road and Windward Lane, across from Bennett’s Creek Farmers Market.

Cutwright said she expects Bridgeport to be a regional game-changer. The city’s growth has pushed the demand for more places to shop, eat and play in a community-centered area. She said the development would feature artistic touches and have the city’s first social club, with three grain silos that are being transformed into restaurant and bar spaces.

Cutwright said the development has been in talks with a muralist and wants to partner with local businesses to create art for people to take in as they walk around the community.

There are still spots available for lease in the project, as well as outparcel properties available for lease or sale.

“The project is close to the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, the Midtown Tunnel and the James River Bridge, providing residents and visitors with superior access to the Peninsula and the Southside,” Cutwright said. “Bridgeport will create a new lifestyle for Suffolk.”

The biggest challenge for the project, Chandler said, is trying to convince a grocer such as Trader Joe’s to take up space in the property.

David Gianascoli, a partner and co-founder of the Gee’s Group, is working on the The Point at Harbour View, a 55-acre mixed-use development that is currently in site-plan review, with hopes for an approved site plan in early July. It is off of Armstead Road, College Drive and Interstate 664 and was rezoned to a mixed-use overlay district, which allows the Economic Development Authority to turn the site into an “innovation district.”

Gianascoli said there would be about 300 apartments, 100 townhomes, 100 condominiums for sale, a hotel and mixed uses throughout the project — up to 475,000 square feet of commercial and retail development. He said it would be a walking-type community, and it is in talks with Tidewater Community College about putting in a pedestrian tunnel under Armstead Road.

The plan, Gianascoli said, would be to connect to Tidewater Community College’s property that will eventually roll toward the riverfront, where there are plans to put in a 1.3-mile boardwalk.

“The whole idea is to connect The Point with the TCC site to make it integrated into a very accessible community,” Gianascoli said. “We hope that we are the starting point for the TCC site.”

He said there is a focus on an entertainment and restaurant use and bringing in brew pubs and microbreweries.

Matthew Baumgarten, TCC Real Estate Foundation executive director, said its College Point location is in a pre-development phase where it is cleaning up the site — the former Nansemond Ordnance Depot — and getting it ready for future development, having invested $2.5 million to clean up the site.

It has partnered with the city to work on the shoreline, with plans to deed over the waterfront to Suffolk to create public open space.

Baumgarten said the foundation expects to hire a broker by mid-July, and then go out for sale with 92 acres after that. He wants to build a listing of the properties up there that are not developed.
“I just see it as a whole new world that’s up there,” Baumgarten said. “It’s great for the tax base. There’s been no taxes coming off of our property, your property, forever. So this is great for Suffolk (and) and it’s great for Hampton Roads. … It’s a great place to be.”