Pembroke Area Improvement Plan

3 02 2009

Monday’s Virginian-Pilot reported that Virginia Beach leaders and residents ‘brainstormed’ and came up with a vision for the future of the Pembroke/Town Center Area. Before I get to the actual details of their vision, I would like to point out that this plan sounds very similar to another, older vision. While I cannot recall off-hand the exact story or person (I think it was the Aragona Village developer?), I do remember reading in the pilot about this particular person’s vision back in the early 1960s, when they dreamed of an urban belt stretching from the Oceanfront to Downtown along Virginia Beach Boulevard.

Back to the recent vision. I do admire Virginia Beach for finally creating a vision that is backed by reasonable growth management techniques and a focus on a mass transit corridor. Virginia Beach is finally growing up. No longer are the the adolescent city striving to take up as much space as possible without planning. They have realized that their time for unrestricted growth has ended. While some of there hopes seem a bit far-fetched (like a Virginia Beach-branded NBA team), they do have very many excellent goals. My favorite is the part where Virginia Beach would relocate their municipal center to Town Center. That is the greatest idea I have heard come out of Virginia Beach ever. They have spent all this money constructing a ‘lifestyle center’ that wants to be a downtown. The only way to bring Town Center into the realm of a Downtown is to make it the city center. That means the City Hall, the Courts, the Jail, etc all have to be located there and future growth has to continually accumulate around it. A plan like this, along with light rail, is a sure step in the right direction in bringing Virginia Beach into the national light as being a major city. Once the light rail is completed, a VB Downtown connected to the Norfolk Downtown would be a force to be reckoned with if the cities begin to work together. A true Hampton Roads Downtown is in the making.

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6 responses

4 02 2009
Michael

I don’t think moving the municipal center to the Pembroke area makes sense at all. They have a ton of space where they are, including room to grow. How often do you go to city hall or the courthouse? It doesn’t need to be in the center of commerce… save that land for things that will bring revenue to the city!

4 02 2009
757hamptonroads

Until the municipal center is moved, it will never be a true downtown, just a ‘lifestyle center.’ Virginia Beach’s Municipal Center currently has between 3000 and 6000 permanent jobs located there. That is why cities locate them downtown. Right now, most of Town Center’s traffic is all pleasure. The jobs that are located there are mostly service jobs (restaurants, shops, hotels, etc.) that depend on people’s disposable income. Bringing in nearly 6000 permanent jobs would greatly bolster Town Center’s income and economic stability. Also, I live in Norfolk and I do go to City Hall quite frequently, usually once a week, sometimes two. It is easily accessible via public transportation as well. Virginia Beach on the other hand, currently has a city hall at the bottom of the populated city. At the time of its construction, they built it there to be geographically centered in the city, paying no attention to the fact that the rural residents are not generally going to be the ones using it. A Town Center Municipal Center would draw law offices, upscale shops, and a larger public spotlight. It would also decrease the amount of fuel the city uses to drive out to the current municipal center and it would decrease the stress on the currently two-lane Princess Anne Road that goes to the center. Additionally, we are a region and should operate as such. I would very much like to be able to attend a Virginia Beach City Council meeting every once in a while. I cannot do this because they hold meetings after the buses stop running. While I know that Virginia Beach probably isn’t concerned about me being able to reach their meeting, what about all of the Virginia Beach bus riders? By placing City Hall in a decidedly suburban, car-centric location, they have cut roughly 37,000 people out of an ability to get to City Hall.

5 02 2009
Henry Ryto

Having been at the meetings, I can tell you that you’re off.

First, the only two parcels suitable for the Municipal Center in the SGA are under contract for private redevelopment. Pembroke can still be downtown Virginia Beach, the seat of white-collar business, without the Municipal Center.

Second, the arena site is centered on a former steel plant. The environmental issues associated with it’s previous use limit what it could be used for in the future. Therefore, while I never would have suggested an arena, it’s not that bad of an idea.

6 02 2009
Michael Ragsdale

Muni Center at Town Center!? Thanks for setting Russell straight Henry

7 02 2009
Russell Manning

I could not find a single example of another major city that housed its municipal center in a location other than in their Downtown. if you know of one, please enlighten me. Currently, it is only Town Center at Virginia Beach. Their plan for growth, however would seem to turn it into Downtown Virginia Beach. Many people, including current and former VB residents, do not think that TC is or will be a downtown. If VB wants a downtown, it needs to center its activity there. We talk about using mass transit and TOD. How can we support a suburban, car-centric Municipal Center? You cant get to/from it after 7 PM. How would somebody like me attend a City Council Meeting in VB? I guess as long as its a short one and I don’t hang around to actually talk with any City Leaders.

18 02 2009
Henry Ryto

Russell,

Your planted axiom is that Route 33 bus service will remain on it’s current schedule always. Neither to make light rail requirements nor as a feeder for such (at the eastern terminus).

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