This afternoon Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) held it's monthly meeting. (It's normally the 1st Thursday at 3 P.M. at the convention center.)
Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Director Jim Ricketts gave a Presentation on Tourism figures through August. Hotel occupancy is down 5.4% to 65%. However, our visitors are spending more, with revenue up 2.1%. Virginia Beach is one of only three cities with a revenue increase in 2008, the other two being Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
Of concern is state Tourism funding. In 1996 Virginia spent $22 million on Tourism; in 2008 it is spending $14 million. With state departments being asked to prepare cuts, that figure could drop another $2 million.
Councilman John Uhrin, Council's RAC Liaison, presented Commissioners with figures from the 31st Street Hilton project. The City is reaping a net gain of $1,330,519 annually. That triggered a largely self-congratulatory discussion on 31st Street and public-private partnerships in general.
The Plan/Design Review Committee (PDRC) looked at two proposed projects of note. First, a mixed-use development where the Viking Motel now is. The hitch is that it was designed by a Texas architect, with the initial drawings looking like "something that belonged in San Antonio." The PDRC's design professionals suggested changes to make it more appropriate for the Beach. Second, there's a proposal to replace the Burger King on Laskin Road with a new one adjacent. However, the proposition faces a few hurdles: the new restaurant wouldn't mesh with the urban redevelopment in the pending Resort Area Strategic Action Plan, any restaurant drive-thru in RT-3 requires a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), and they want to continue operating the current Burger King while the new one is built - a zoning violation.
Fact of the Day: 17% of City lodging revenues come from Sandbridge rentals.