Last night was the initial meeting on the Rosemont Strategic Growth Area (SGA). Initially scheduled for Thalia Elementary School, it had to be moved to the SGA Office at Town Center due to school being closed because of weather.
There is a consortium developing the plan, led by Urban Design Associates (UDA) of Pittsburgh. It was UDA that also did the Burton Station SGA and Newtown SGA plans. (In fact, a couple UDA staffers recognized me from the Newtown meetings.)
Things started with opening remarks by Councilman Jim Wood. Jim pointed out that while most of the Rosemont SGA falls in Lynnhaven District, none of the Lynnhaven SGA does. (Hey, Jim, it's redistricting year, so....) There was then a presentation that largely had two parts: overall SGA policy, and specifics of Rosemont. After that, chart paper was brought out and we listed strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement in the Rosemont SGA.
Finally, we did a dots on the map exercise. Each person got three dots of each color, and put them on strengths (green), weaknesses (red), and opportunities for improvement (Carolina blue). I had a chance to look at all four maps, and there were some points of consensus:
1. The Collins Square and Loehmann's Plaza Shopping Centers are strengths.
2. The Great American Outlet Mall and Birchwood Mall Shopping Center are weaknesses. All the better given that they cover a large area of land adjacent to the proposed light rail station.
3. The Virginia Beach Boulevard/Rosemont Road/Bonney Road/I-264 intersection is a mess.
Fun fact: over 80% of the Rosemont SGA is covered by impermeable surfaces. Ideal for urban redevelopment.
My big idea of the night: revisiting the "defined nightclub district" issue. I was looking at putting it where the Birchwood Mall Shopping Center is now. It would be in walking distance of the light rail station, giving it train access from throughout the region. (In outlying years, you may be drinking toasts to me for trying to keep that idea alive.)
UDA will be back for public meetings March 15-17. They'll review our input and have proposed concepts based on it. It's hoped to have the Rosemont plan complete early this Summer.