JPN0731

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About JPN0731

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  1. JPN0731

    Norfolk Light Rail and Transit

    I hate to be like the people in the Pilotonline comments section but for crying out loud, enough is enough. Light rail has been a colossal failure here. Now there is some hair-brained scheme to run a light rail up Miliatary Highway to the airport and then to the "BASE" and this is going to magically solve traffic woes and make enlisted people want to ride transit that will take longer than driving and cost more. Yeah, not gonna happen. I ride The Tide quite often actually. I take it to Newtown Road to meet my husband after work regularly and it's a nice, easy, smooth ride. Never crowded because even at rush hour, there are not that many people on it. If it went to Town Center, that would be even better. I ride my bike a lot and then use The Tide to get me back sometimes. Out of all the left wing, liberal west siders that I have as friends I am one of the only if not the only one who rides it this much. But it is a waste and it is not efficiently tied into the bus system. I honestly feel this is because HRT wants a clean delineation between bus riders and light rail riders and does not appreciate the "bus crowd" who tend to be poorer on The Tide. I actually met a friend of a friend who works at HRT and was asking why on earth they would put the bus transfer center over by the projects and not Harbor Park where it would tie into light rail and she was incredulous saying "we have a bigger consumer base there!" Yeah until Norfolk bulldozes all the projects down. Watch for that bus transit center to vanish once pricey condos go up. Norfolk's leadership is myopic and sad but no more so than when it comes to public transit. Hampton Roads is a unique area because of the huge number of enlisted military folks we have here. I am a vet myself so I am not slamming military. But this area is made up of people who are from tiny crappy towns or slums of cities across the US who could not get out fast enough and the only ticket out was to join up. Myself and a good number of my military buddies included. So these are people who don't have the same value set as urban elites and don't make tons of money. When time is tight, who wants to drive to Newtown Rd where there is NOTHING and then park and then have to ride to a base and then get off a train and ride a bus or shuttle to somewhere else. When you have a life and kids and a job and have to be to work at 6:30 am. People going to the base won't even pay the express lane tolls of like $1 but they are going to go and sit on the light rail for twice that much and it will take twice as long? Again... yeah, not gonna happen. Then you have Highway which is like driving in a war zone. Like literally wtf is going on and when is that going to be done? So now they want to send a light rail up there? I lived through the construction in Freemason and it was a disaster. I do not understand how Norfolk is not bankrupt. If they are not giving their Buddys 15 year tax abatements on brand new, shoddily done buildings or giving land to fast food places they want to throw more money in the burn barrel to fund another light rail track that goes nowhere? Norfolk has seriously pressing issues that should be addressed. Instead of light rail, why not consider these options: Revamping the transit system in place to better reflect the needs of the current riders? Maybe express bus lines and lanes that better connect to light rail? Get smaller buses as in the buses that seat 15 people or so. The kind that are based on something like a Ford Transit (see what I did there?) These use less gas and are much cheaper. They can be used on off-peak times or for less busy routes. Synchronization of the traffic lights to get better traffic flows. Maybe putting lights to flashing red/yellow after 9 pm? Forget about "THE BASE" because it is a mini city in itself that will need extensive shuttles, etc. If the military is so worried about traffic to and from the base they would be more involved. Think to the future. ODU students don't need light rail because they just use lyft and uber anyway. I know because I drive part time for both. There is a free shuttle that ODU students can use and it is EMPTY because people go where they want when they want. Maybe Norfolk would better help its citizens by giving uber/lyft vouchers to get people to jobs because the bus certainly is not the way to do it. If it were somehow possible, ditch The Tide all together. It is never going to catch on. And this is coming from someone who rides it regularly.
  2. JPN0731

    Starwood Mixed Use Proposal

    Wow why so cynical? I get that there was supposed to be a 3rd anchor but retail has changed dramatically since the mall was built. MacArthur Center has lots of vacant space and will probably lose an anchor when Nordstrom bails out after its 20 obligation is done. I think the mall's owners are showing insight and building something there that can generate foot traffic rather than an open plot.
  3. So after the grand tour of the new Lidl in VB, I have to say it was kind of... disappointing. Here are my takeaways: Lidl is suggesting it is somewhere between Trader Joe's and Harris Teeter. I'd say this is definitely not the case. Although it is much bigger than a TJ or Aldi, most of what it has is really just too "American". It feels more like a cross between the IKEA cafeteria and a Walmart NM. TJ especially and even Aldi have quirky stuff that is fun to try. Here everything just seemed like the off brand of every boring thing you can already buy everywhere else. EXCEPT that the wine section was huge and... did not seem to have the best prices so there's that. And I guess what I like about Aldi is the selection is basic. TJ has a lot more stuff but the store is still small. Lidl is not big but is not an easy in and out place. It's a weird size that feels too small and too big for what its trying to accomplish if that makes any sense. I'll probably bypass it for the Hilltop which will have an Aldi, TJ, WF and Target all close to each other. Even a Kroger (although the only thing I ever get at that one is gas) and Walmart too. I think the biggest competitors will be Food Lion, Walmart NM and maybe Farm Fresh. I don't see it as huge competition for TJ or WF though. Not really even Aldi.
  4. JPN0731

    The Icon at CityWalk

    I would honestly be shocked if they were actually getting the full asking price. From my experience, rents are very negotiable. This is a signature building but I would assume that the rents listed are a starting point and depending on how badly they want to fill the place, they will offer all kinds of incentives. However once your first lease is up... so are the prices.
  5. A quick question about the state of grocery retail in VB and HR in general. Aldi recently opened one store and has 3-4 more in the works. Each time I have been, it has been fairly crowded. Lidl is humming right along with its Norfolk and Hampton locations (have not been past the Indian River Rd/Providence site lately); they are rumored to open in the summer Wegmans is coming soonish to Town Center Publix is rumored to be coming soon (Publix in VB?) With so many new grocers opening and some fairly new concepts to HR that have opened recently (Kroger Marketplace, Walmart Neighborhood Grocery- yes I know there has been one in Norfolk for many years but the vast majority have opened in the past 2) does anyone know the state of the grocery retail market? I wonder how much pain this is causing some of the more traditional and established players (Food Lion and Farm Fresh to be precise). I have never been a fan of Farm Fresh and would actually not shed one tear to see it be taken over by Publix or some other brand. Its parent company is in bad shape. Food Lion is pretty sad as well but now that they have merged with Giant, I think they are safe for now. I just don't understand how all these new places can open and the ones that are here can survive. Harris Teeter still seems to be thriving in the almost luxury grocer niche. Anyone have any inside scoops?
  6. JPN0731

    Virginia Beach Light Rail and Transit

    A couple things to understand about this area. In the 1950's people began moving en masse from Norfolk to Princess Anne County. For various reasons but a biggie was to avoid desegregation. PAC was worried because Norfolk City began gobbling up its areas on the border (e.g. the areas close to Newtown Road) so they merged with the small city of Virginia Beach (what we now call "The Oceanfront") and thus stopped the spread of Norfolk. Added into this mix is a large number of military people. This area has a lot of people from all over the nation but large numbers of them were from small conservative towns and these people bring their views with them. So Norfolk is a "big scary city" and they avoid it like the plague. My spouse's family went to Norfolk maybe once or twice a year as a family. So the bottom line is that they don't want Norfolk coming to them. They don't want to be urban. They are not urban at heart. Many are from small towns or the children of people from small towns. They see light rail as bringing in the "Norfolk element" (I will leave that up to your interpretation as to what their coded words actually mean) and costing too much money. And although Trump won VB, it was by a smaller margin than the light rail lost so it's not 100% a democrat vs. republican thing. Had the city council not dragged its heels for the past 4 years after voters approved it, we would be in a different place. Maybe Norfolk can get some other city on board like Chesapeake but I doubt it will expand anytime in the near future.
  7. JPN0731

    American Cigar Company Garden Apartments

    That's too bad. I was hoping to open this and see some progress being made. Looks like it may be the end of the line for that old building.
  8. JPN0731

    Virginia Beach Light Rail and Transit

    I don't quite get how a monorail would work from Newtown Road to Town Center or better yet, why? Most monorail systems I have been on were either looped tracks or a very short distance like Disney World or an airport. The problem is that Norfolk took a big (and arguably stupid) gamble with LR. It built it on the assumption that VB would jump on board once it was up and running. That has not happened. I live near a LR station and have used it often. It is good for extending bike runs and for avoiding traffic when I want to meet my husband after work. But honestly, it is almost always empty, it goes nowhere that I would be interested in stopping that I cannot walk/bike to, it took large amounts of funding away from the already cash deprived transit system and lastly, where is the TOD? Newtown Road area around the station is still underdeveloped and even Ruby Tuesday's can't stay in business over there. I like LR, I am one of the very few people I know who use it and I would really like it if it went to Town Center BUT if it gets voted down by VB city council, I wonder if Norfolk might want to consider an exit strategy or if it is even possible.
  9. JPN0731

    The Icon at CityWalk

    I'm sure he does not care. He has done some great things for Norfolk but getting a tax abatement for that former storefront is beyond "a stretch". It's more like "sketch". Buddy has lots of buddies in high places so I would not waste time worrying on his behalf.
  10. Meh. The food on the website does not even look good. The menu is way too many pages and way too many different cuisines. Unique as in "slightly lower budget Cheesecake Factory? I do hope this is not what boabas is referring to below, especially since I don't think this is the most requested place in our area.
  11. Well that is good to hear. I see on their website that they are doing a hard push to expand in Southern CA as well so I was thinking that would put the quash on us getting one. The food is very good and the prices are aligned with Chiptloe. If you haven't been, check it out!
  12. JPN0731

    Rivers Edge at Berkeley

    This looks similar to the density that they have over at the places at the foot of the Granby Street bridge. Personally, I would love to see something at least this dense in Fort Norfolk because all it is now is a few buildings and tons of parking lots. I have a feeling not too much will change over there in the next 5-10 years either.
  13. Ah... maybe Shake Shack or something along those lines? Personally, there are a lot of fast-casual chains in DC that would work well here. Cava Grill, Nando's and La Madeleine to name my top three wish list (being as we are getting Bonchon in Norfolk).
  14. JPN0731

    Rivers Edge at Berkeley

    Maybe it doesn't seem like it because the rendering has each building at 5 stories. It's not super amazing but it is in a bizarre location that is not Norfolk's most desirable neighborhood.
  15. JPN0731

    Norfolk Stores and Retail and Resturants

    So I was in the MacArthur Center not too long ago and saw the Lidl ads that are hanging up. And there was the inevitable write up in the pilot: http://pilotonline.com/business/consumer/german-grocer-lidl-picks-military-highway-site-in-norfolk/article_3a4da689-357b-5ad4-b33f-1d2028ee5a3f.html As usual, there is a description of the plans bit no link to them. This is public info, right? Anyway I have been to Lidl in Europe and in general they are pretty awful stores. However, they are also stepping up their game and improving. If they look more like these pics: http://www.retail-week.com/sectors/grocery/lidl-unveils-store-of-the-future-amid-15bn-property-investment/7002025.fullarticle than the grocery equivalent of Olli's or this: https://www.kamppi.fi/en/retailer/lidl , they may have a better shot in the US. I think if they go full Dollar Tree with their stores, they will bomb. Now I know that VB is supposed to be getting at least two Aldi stores (Kempsville and somewhere down near the south of Oceana). The article says two in Chesapeake. Any in Norfolk? The Portsmouth one is OK- I have shopped there a few times and was surprised at the quality levels. Anyone know the scoop?