Rezoning for condos approved for Portsmouth Boulevard

Published 7:34 pm Wednesday, August 26, 2020

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Suffolk City Council last week unanimously approved the rezoning of nearly 23 acres of property on the corner of Suburban Drive and Portsmouth Boulevard, paving the way for a developer to build up to 70 condominiums.

The property is behind a Food Lion shopping center and next to East End Baptist Church and the Magnolia Gardens apartments.

George Kemp of K&A Builders, on behalf of property owner Mike Zarpas, sought and received approval to have the property rezoned from heavy industrial and general commercial zoning to residential compact zoning to accommodate plans to build single-family detached condos. The Planning Commission unanimously recommended the rezoning request following a July 22 public hearing.

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Other than a stormwater management facility and two private access roads that serve the shopping center, the property is undeveloped. To the north of the property is an abandoned railroad right of way proposed by the city for a multi-use trail, soon to be under construction. Also adjacent to the property are a strip of heavy industrial zoned property and a neighborhood of single-family homes.

Martin Speroni, an attorney with Saunders & Ojeda, said during a public hearing at the council meeting that the condos would be 2,100 to 3,200 square feet — above the proffered amount of 1,700 square feet — and likely priced between $309,000 and $359,000 for each condo.

A proposed conceptual plan shows 65 single-family detached condos that will have two entry and exit points, one off of Suburban Drive and the other an existing private access point off of Portsmouth Boulevard that is currently used as the main entry and exit for the shopping center.  Proffers call for no more than 70 single-family detached condos. The developer has also proffered the building materials to be used for the condos.

Representing Kemp, attorney Whitney Saunders of Saunders & Ojeda, said the current pattern of development in the area to be rezoned is consistent with other parts of the city and in the Hampton Roads region.

The proposed development would not significantly impact school capacities, according to Speroni, as there is sufficient capacity at Mack Benn Jr. Elementary, John F. Kennedy Middle and King’s Fork High schools to accommodate it and the projected 31 students the development is expected to bring.

Speroni said a fiscal impact study showed a projected income of residents to be $83,000 per year — “average for what we have” — and once fully occupied, would bring $482,000 in gross revenue to the city. After factoring in costs to the city’s general and interest funds of $211,000, it would bring “a net benefit to the city of $270,000 every year after it is occupied.” He said one-time fees would bring another $1.2 million for the city.

Traffic is not expected to be adversely impacted by the development, according to a traffic impact analysis of existing commercial entrances at Portsmouth Boulevard and Suburban Drive, finding that both intersections “will continue to operate at acceptable levels of service.”

Of the 22.93 acres to be rezoned, 7.97 acres have been designated as non-tidal wetlands, with a stormwater facility taking up another 1.08 acres. With 13.88 acres of usable property, the proposed development would have a density of 5.04 units per acre, below the six to 12 units per acre typically found in the inner ring of the suburban use district under the 2035 Comprehensive Plan.

“I think we can tick off all of the requirements that the city looks for in order to have a residential development which meets the city’s standards,” Saunders said.