On Wednesday morning I went to my first meeting of the TPO's Transportation Technical Advisory Committee (TTAC). As I expected, it was very dry. If you want to hear something more boring than politicians talking about transportation projects for two hours, it's a bunch of engineers talking about transportation projects for two hours.
One of the things covered was the ongoing Phase II of the Regional Transit Vision Plan. The light rail portion had the Norfolk Starter Line, the Virginia Beach extension, and the extension north in Norfolk to the Navy base via Old Dominion University (ODU). Prior to Cinco de Mayo, I had thought of ODU and Norfolk State University (NSU) being upline largely in terms of students making day trips to our Oceanfront. However, something struck me....
Virginia Beach's Resort Area Strategic Action Plan (RASAP) puts a heavy emphasis on mixed-use urban redevelopment. We'd have 3-4 story buildings with retail or offices on the first floor, with apartments "above the store". It has been questioned whether or not we could fill the huge capacity in the RASAP. The target demographic has been empty nesters, but we could also look at....
My brainstorm was that those same apartments would make for a great college living experience. Think about it: a student could live at the Oceanfront, taking the train to and from classes. Wouldn't that sound very cool for a young person? A good drawing card? Given the nature of mass transit, studying could be done, and laptop computers used, on the train en route.
I've read that ODU already has a problem with a lack of dormitory space. I'm not intimately familiar with the NSU situation. (However, I'd love to get intimately familiar with a NSU coed....) Virginia Beach doesn't have it's own public four year university, but we could become the de facto satellite dorm site of a couple.
In the long term, it could become a retainment tool for keeping young people here after college. After four years of the beach and loving it, why would you want to move to Roanoke?
There are obviously a few loose ends. However, I thought I'd toss my idea out there for debate and consideration.