Today began Round 2 of the public meetings on developing a land use plan for the Newtown Strategic Growth Area (SGA).
12:30 P.M. Focus Group
I participated in the second of the four focus groups today. About half of us had been in the 10:30 A.M. focus group during Round 1, and the consulting firm's staff remembered us from there.
The majority of the time was taken reviewing the public input from Round 1. The Strengths, Weaknesses, and Opportunities had been correlated. Staff had developed a set of principles from the input.
The intriguing thing is the City of Norfolk's interest in participating and cooperating. First, Norfolk wants the area southwest of the Virginia Beach Boulevard/Newtown Road intersection incorporated into the study, focusing on the trailer park. Second, Norfolk is willing to work with Virginia Beach on improving Newtown Road itself, with the lion's share of the road falling in Norfolk.
There were two big areas of feedback:
1. We should be aware that in redeveloping, we might be simply moving a problem. If you put new housing on one side of the road but leave the problem neighborhood on the other side, residents from the latter are going to continue to drift through the former.
2. My contribution was to raise the issue of whether we were planning too much Retail for our SGAs. While you want Retail in walking distance of the transit stations in doing Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), start looking at how many square feet of Retail are already in the Resort Area and Pembroke SGA plans. Be careful not to glut.
6 P.M. Public Gallery
This evening's meeting was sparsely attended, though incoming Virginia Beach Vision President Mike Barrett plus Meyera & Roger Oberndorf were there. Staff was working on draft plans, and discussing the early work with us.
While what I saw was preliminary, this is what had been churned out so far:
1. A Town Center Lite development northeast of the Newtown Road light rail station currently under construction.
2. The single family detached neighborhood southeast of the station would be preserved.
3. Multifamily housing would go where the Arrowhead Shopping Center currently is and just west of it. A light rail station would go along the tracks on the northern edge of that land. The multifamily and adjacent ECPI would provide a natural base of walkup customers for the light rail.
4. Office, plus some existing industrial, on Greenwich Road.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17
Tomorrow night there will be a public meeting on the first draft plans. It will be at Kempsville Baptist from 6-8 P.M.
If you want a say before things go further, speak up tomorrow night!