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Everything posted by hoobo

  1. I know there are plenty of excellent home grown seafood houses, but really can't think of any in downtown. So I wonder if a Blue Coral (OSI), Gulfstream (Hillstone Group), or Chart House (Landry) would fit the bill. Or are they not upscale enough since Morton's tops any upscale chain restaurant currently in the area (really just in TC such as Ruth's Chris and McCormick & Schmick's)?
  2. So Divaris and the Meyera have the same dream? Who would've guessed. The municipal center is out in Pungo because P.A. County good ole boys wanted the former county center to stay there after merging with the town of VB. Otherwise, City Hall may have been at the Oceanfront. The current municipal center would make a great college campus especially with the nearby Sportsplex (finally a long-term use for it). The main municipal services that people use are Treasuer (which has branches throughout city), utilities, planning/permits/PW, courts, school board meetings, and council meetings. There are other city services spread throughout town including Economic Development (at TC), Human Services (at Little Neck), Libraries (at Central) and Public Health (at Pembroke Corporate behind Kmart). Residents don't interact with most city personnel, so it doesn't help to move them. I would consolidate Econ Dev, Human Services, and Public Health in one central location in Pembroke/TC. I'd add to that a research counter for Planning/Permits/PW so residents and designers don't have to drive all the way to Pungo to look up and print record drawings. Everything should be electronic (or microfiche) so linking the satellite office with the main office either electronically or via microfiche duplicates shouldn't be a problem. A satellite council chambers can also be provided so that one meeting a month can be held there, preferably to discuss issues relating to northern VB. Moving neighborhood perservation dept to northern VB would make sense too. Finally, a traffic court and a small claims court could be added to this center since those don't require Sheriff/jail services. With all the parking in TC, you wouldn't need to add any. Replacing that long 2-story building on Columbus would be perfect. And you could tie an LR station into it.
  3. So a place like Mon Ami Gabi wouldn't work in VB? I think based on the proposed description of Zinc, that Mon Ami is the closest chain I can think of. If the price point is $25 for a flatiron steak, then I'd think the price point can work. It's not much more than say Outback. If Zinc went run-of-the-mill instead of pulling off the brasserie concept, then how would it be distinguished from Outback, though?
  4. edit: The increase in home values is 115% not 215%. If the baseline is set at 100, then today's assessed value would be 215. A 1% annual increase would result in an 8% increase over 6 years. Sorry for the confusion on the percentages. The run-up in home prices is a global phenomenon not just a U.S. one. And yes, the way loans were and to some degree, still are done is wrong. You should have to verify income if employed, or show business financials if self-employed. If you put a downpayment under 10% you should be able to prove that you have reserve funds. And your credit score should be good or excellent. We can agree there. We also agree that the run-up in home prices was crazy. What we don't agree on is how much they should come down. I'd draw a projected line from the historical trend to today. Looking at the run-up in prices, a 30% drop would bring prices in line with where they should be if they increased according to the historic trend line. Just because there are 18 million homes vacant doesn't mean that home prices have to fall everywhere. A vacant house in Surry should have little to no effect on a vacant home in Chick's Beach. A lot of these vacant homes are in outlying suburbs and dying rural and mill towns. People fled to the outlying suburbs when city prices got to high. Now as city prices return to the historic trend line, people can afford to move closer to work. Thus, outlying suburbs will see an exodus and collapsing markets. That's what is happening in San Bernardino and Riverside counties out here. L.A. and Orange counties have not had the price drop that those outlying counties have seen.
  5. Worlds colliding. We agree again. I'm definitely with you on this. Best part about buying at or near current rent levels is that as rents go up, your mortgage payment stays the same assuming you got a fixed rate loan.
  6. Higher interest rates are bad if you want to buy. Interest rates aren't going to go down anytime soon. They'll likely go up. I was being sarcastic when I said you should wait for them to go up. If you wait for home prices to fall a bit more but rates increase in the meantime, then what difference does it make. Yes you get a higher deduction but you're still paying 75% more of the difference. (e.g. $1600/mo vs $1500/mo means you're spending an extra $75/mo after tax savings, so where's the benefit?) All I know is that there are plenty of good deals out there. If you start comparing home prices to rental prices, you'll find that mortgages after figuring in tax savings are coming into line with prices for comparable rental units. That means time to buy. How do you figure that I'm advocating high prices? I'm the last person to say buy when it's hot. You buy when it's undervalued. Everyone and their mother kept telling me to buy over the last couple years. I said no. This market makes no sense and at some point it will revalue either by moving sideways for several years or by dropping 15%. It's dropped even further than 15% which means I'm trying to buy sooner than I had expected. But to ask for a 50% drop is nuts. Assessments in VB have risen about 215% over the past 6 years. To ask for a 50% drop in home values means that you'd average a 1% annual increase in home values, for an increase of 108% over 6 years. To get to a more realistic 6% annual increase would require a 30 - 35% drop in prices. That's more sensible. Prices have dropped between 20 - 30% here in L.A. However, in HR, they're still inflated due to low unemployment and a late start in the housing madness. Then again, I'm not even sure if that foreclosure hammer will hit HR since right now, only 1 in 1500 homes is in foreclosure which is a lower figure than Raleigh, Charlotte, and Jax which entered the boom at about the same time as HR. What confuses me is that you rail against the greed of mortgage firms and ignorance of over-leverged home buyers, yet you want prices to collapse and even expect them to drop by 50% with no justification. edit: The increase in home values is 115% not 215%. If the baseline is set at 100, then today's assessed value would be 215. A 1% annual increase would result in an 8% increase over 6 years. Sorry for the confusion on the percentages.
  7. Don't tell me that. Tell telmnstr/ethan. I'm in the process of purchasing a place here in SoCal. Prices have come down to the point that they're in line with where they should be considering historical growth rates. They'll drop further because of foreclosures, but only 5% or so. And given the risk of rising interest rates, I'm not going to wait another year hoping for lower prices. I haven't looked at HR, but I know out here you can get a decent 1 bed condo in Long Beach or Burbank with low HOAs for under $2000 a month including tax and insurance. Similar rentals in those areas go for between $1200 and $1600 depending on whether it's private rentals or professionally managed. If you discount the PITI on a condo for interest and property tax deductions on state and fed taxes, then it's roughly in line with rentals. That to me makes it a good time to buy. Expecting a huge drop is just plain greedy and unrealistic. And scm, you're dead on with the unemployment aspect. This home price drop is fueled by bad loans and historically low interest rates not unemployment. Even in this recession, which is still subject to debate, unemployment hasn't hit, though it usually trails a downturn, and some places like HR are even seeing a drop in unemployment. And as you said, if there is a drop, best thing to do if you can is to ride it out.
  8. Nice spin. HR's increase was 155%, which BTW, was stated in the article. I guess 217% is much more eye-popping. And based on the map from the ReatlyTrac report that Bloomberg cites, HR looks to be at around 1 foreclosure in 1500 households which is better than NoVa, Raleigh, Charlotte, and states like Florida and California. I'm sorry that the facts don't support the spin. Good luck on your 50%+ price drop you're looking for. BTW, right now, with low interest rates and a home prices that have fallen to within 5% of the trough, is a good time to buy. Just wait until the Fed raises rates to reduce inflationary pressures.
  9. You can even see how they're incorporating those old buildings along Granby (the gray mass). Looks like they're going to step back the building/parking garage. It should blend in well.
  10. This is from the following article on LRT in VB: THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright © 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Saturday, July 6, 1996 TAG: 9607060344 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A1 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY CHRISTOPHER DINSMORE, STAFF WRITER LENGTH: 117 lines Since then, VB city leaders have said other crossings would have to be elevated for safety and traffic concerns. If I recall correctly, the desire was to attach an elevated station to Dick's garage or put it behind that 2-story office building on the corner of Constitution and Columbus. In any event, that stretch between Indy and Constitution would probably be elevated unless they can time the cross-street lights with the train crossing schedule.
  11. They'd just have to tear it and BB&B down and build a 3 or 4 story building with parking, theaters, and a new BB&B. The "street" between BB&B and Planet Music can be turned into a real street with the theater entrance and valet/drop off turn-off along this new street and BB&B on the corner. New shops would line Constitution. After this, B&N and adjacent shops can be torn down along with that out-parcel. A new 3 or 4 story building with parking can be built there with a B&N on the corner of the Blvd and Constitution. Maybe include an urban Target with its entrance at the corner of the Blvd and that street between this shopping center and the one with Silver Diner. Finally, the parking lot in front of Planet Music will be replaced with a park and bandstand for concerts that Planet Music promotes. That's my vision for that shopping center. Pembroke mall on the other hand is a whole different beast: outdoor urban mall, apartments, condos, and office buildings: another mixed-use complex like TC but with an outdoor mall as the anchor. Edit: I didn't realize just how big that property is. It's half as big as TC. What they should do is extend both Main and Columbus to Beasley and make a parallel road between Constitution and Beasley. Expand the theater at its current lot. Move BB&B to Constitution as part of a new parking structure and retail/high-rise office. Put Target where BB&B is with townhouses or a condo/apt building front Beasley. Then do the above renovation for B&N plus additional retail & office.
  12. When my firend worked at Columbus over 10 years ago, there was talk of closing Pembroke (which at the time was the most profitable Regal in HR) and expanding Columbus (which was the weakest cineplex in the area). The reasoning was Pembroke was old and Columbus had a lot of empty space. By building new theaters at Columbus you reduce the empty space to revenue generating space ratio, eliminate operational duplicity, and attract customers with new big-screen stadium theaters. Then came the tech bust, so that plan ended. Hopefully, it's coming back.
  13. The original intent of that block was a 2 or 3 story retail and cinema complex. The cinema portion was supposed to be a Sundance arthouse cineplex with I believe 6 or so screens. That deal fell through, so AH and Divaris have been trying to come up with something. First it was something similar to Studio 56 Lofts, and now it's a mid-rise boutique hotel. I think having adding more floors and a taller building is more profitable than a movie gimmick. Speaking of IMAX: there's a regular IMAX at the Hampton Air & Space Museum and a 3D IMAX at the Virginia Aquaium (formerly VMSM). Regal just needs to finally merge Pembroke and Columbus cinemas which would pave the way for redevelopment of that B&N et al. shopping center into a pedestrian oriented shopping complex. Target anyone?
  14. I'm going to throw out the Kimpton Hotel chain. I stayed in one of their hotels in San Diego: very nice. They're out of San Fran but have a huge presence in D.C. metro area and are opening a location in Baltimore. W seems to hip for Town Center. I could see them in Downtown Norfolk or as part of a new development at the Strip, but not TC. At least, not right now. But then again, it fits in with the mixed-use aspect. aLoft is interesting since it's more of burbs/small town offshoot of W, but who knows.
  15. They'd have to upscale the name. It needs to be a Hilton (which owns Doubletree), Westin, Hyatt, or Marriott. I think Hilton is out since they have a branded property a few blocks away. Westin is out since there's already one in VB and soon to be one in Norfolk (?). So that leaves Hyatt and Marriott. Hyatt has teamed with Garfield Traub. I'm guessing that AH will team with Marriott. So that leaves Doubletree. I don't see them winning this. You'd have an A convention center and a B convention hotel.
  16. Harborplace is in an ideal location. It has the National Aquarium to one side, the Baltimore convention center on another, and office buildings across the street. It is three buildings: 2 pavilions that look like Waterside and 1 complex within an office/hotel building across the street. The pavilions are like how Waterside used to be: tourist shops, a food court, and restaurants such as Cheesecake, Hooters, and Philips (which I believe is no longer at Waterside). The complex has stores you find at MacArthur such as Banana Republic and Coach. The reason I'm so quick to turn my back on Waterside is that it is isolated. It is cut off from downtown by a 6-lane thoroughfare, which in itself isn't a problem, but the wall of parking is. If the Marriott and downtown office buildings opened onto Waterside Drive instead of Main, then Waterside would be fine. It is even cut-off from Town Pointe Park and Nauticus by the Spirit of Norfolk Basin. And the ice rink has moved to MacArthur Center. The center of downtown, both commercial and residential, is moving away from the waterfront. Thinking about it: Norfolk could've saved lots of money if it converted Waterside into Nauticus or into the cruise ship terminal. Maybe use it to enlarge Waterside Convention Center. The plight of Waterside is similar to Shoreline Village in Long Beach, CA in its disconent from downtown. Shoreline Village was tetering on collapse, but has come back. The big difference is that Shoreline Village is next to a rebuilt 1,800 slip marina and a new entertainment complex although it is a couple blocks from the main downtown area. Building Waterside marina into a much larger marina would help generate some traffic but I'm not sure if even that would be enough.
  17. vdogg's right. Waterside is away from all the action. Just look at its location: it is separated from the rest of downtown by a 6-lane thoroughfare designed to get cars on and off 264. There are no stores, offices, hotels, or residences facing it (a Sheraton next door won't cut it) but a line of parking structures, parking lots, and private park/plaza. Even the 30-some slip marina is useless. Waterside may thrive if it was placed next to the new cruise terminal. Just look at how its sister pavilion in Baltimore (Harborplace) are doing, which also benefits by not having a downtown mall to compete against. At this point, I'd turn it into a park and rebuild the marina into a 60+ slip facility (around $5 million) if it is to remain in public hands. Better yet would be to place the site up for bid requesting designs for a mixed-use 5-10 story building (offices, boutique hotel, a few eclectic stores (Urban Outfitters?) and restaurants, 40 apartments/condos that include a slip at a new 100 slip marina. No need for public money since the garage is already built. Maybe just some money for a renovated public riverwalk.
  18. Like RJWGMU said, It's broken up. You can visualize, in the future, the construciton of a parking garage and highrise or 2 in between the three long buildings. I don't think all hope is lost. Since the Landing isn't moving forward right now (probably because it had such a big residential component), the owner of the Hannaford property isn't going to wait to see if he gets bought out. He'll build something on his property, but at least it isn't the one building concept he planned to build before. Is it all retail, or is some of it offices (i.e. 2 or 3 story buildings)?
  19. Monster knows people are stupid and when you say words like gold connectors and virtually no loss of signal they'll pay the premium when in actually, the noticable difference between Monster cables and decent cables is negligible. Also, although you ultimately bought the Amazon one, BB and CC offer brick&mortar price matching plus an additional 10% of the difference (i.e. 110% of the difference) for any local store. So the TV would've been cheaper at CC. Doesn't work on rebates, online deals, or members-only discounts.
  20. downtownnorfolk.org has information about retail sales and tax revenue for FY 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. It looks like FY 2007 is a little premature to report on. It looks like MacArthur Center total sales have plateaued at $250 million but retail sales now make 80% of that total. That means food and theater ticket sales have dropped off as has tax revenue since food and entertainment taxes are higher than retail taxes. Both JANAF and Military Circle have higher sales than MacArthur Center, though, I don't know if they consider JANAF and Military Circle only the malls or include surrounding retail. The retail centers ranked in terms of tax revenue from least to greatest are JANAF, then MacArthur, then Military. Here's the link (PDF): http://norfolk.gov/Revenue/reports/sandr06.pdf
  21. But that same report predicts a 30% drop in Miami, 25% in Vegas and Phoenix, 15 - 25% in the L.A. metro (depending on the county), 15% in San Diego and Jax, 20% in DC metro, and upwards of 35% in secondary and tertiary markets in California and Florida. What's presented in the report sounds reasonable. What you're describing isn't a return to true market rates, but a depression. And why is it in your best interest or any bloggers best interest to tell the truth? By creating a panic and driving down prices, these bloggers could swoop in a pick up undervalued properties. I sincerely hope that your dire predictions don't come true otherwise I'll see you in the bread line.
  22. Happy New Year, Chicken Little. What about Moody's Economy's report that predicts a 10% correction in the HR home price over the next two years before bottom is hit in late 2009 based on several indicators not just units on the market? That doesn't really figure into the sky-is-falling scenario too well.
  23. I'd love to see the AH and HoB/LiveNation proposals team up for this thing. VB would have the only HoB between Myrtle and AC and be one of only a dozen HoBs in the country. Then again, it would compete with local upstart: the NorVa
  24. Why should VB, Hampton, etc. pay for something that Norfolk businesses directly benefit from and which may hurt said cities own businesses? And why should Norfolk share the revenues with other cities when it has to provide the infrastructure (i.e. roads, water, sewer, etc.) for the venue? The only way it could have happened is if there was a regional project package like what OKC did, where the participating localities pool their bond issuing abilities together and each locality gets something from the deal: an arena, a convention center, a central library, a theater, etc. But the time for that is too late since everyone has what they want for the time being. Also, an arena now costs between $200 and $300 million. I think Norfolk would rather use its bond obligation limit for other things like a courthouse, a central library, and community centers. Can't wait for scm to reem me for changing my position.
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