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494 St Paul Residential Development


mikeas

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I don't have time to expand on it much right now but if you look here: http://www.norfolk.gov/DocumentCenter/View/19579 you will see plans for a urban (semi-suburban style) apartment complex on St. Paul.  It has a lot of surface parking but the building(s) have an urban theme to them.  It's actually more of a campus of apartment buildings now that I look at the site plan.  The surface lots could be layed out in a fashion that allows a garage in the future.  Overall it's 120 more units downtown that wouldn't exist otherwise.

 

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It's better than nothing but hopefully this means Norfolk will "clean out" the rest of the SPQ because who would want to live in a nice apartment next to the ghetto?

 

Also, at least the parking is hidden from St. Paul's Blvd. Wish this was more of a high-rise project but at least it's a start.

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This project has been a hot topic amongst city planners, council, and Re:Vision Norfolk and is largely viewed as a terrible project mainly due to all of the surface parking.  Certain members of city council are aggressively pushing this project (most likely because of backroom deals with the developer).   The city planning commission and Re:vision (especially the architects/planners that are members) are completely against it because of the design and are asking the developer to come back with a better one.  One that might include Retail on the first floor and hidden parking to be consistent with the General St. Paul's Plan that was developed years ago (and paid for and approved by city council).  That's the same plan many of us have seen that creates an entire mixed use neighborhood to include residential, street level retail/small businesses and parks.   Of course, the surface parking is also a waste of very expensive real estate.  This also comes just after the bus station project was moved to St. Paul's from Harbor Park wasting even more real estate.  It's almost like this perfect location full of potential is about to become a hodge-podge of projects that don't connect of flow with one another.  Anywho, City Planning Commission and Re:vision are trying to delay it and create discussion to at least come to a compromise.  I believe they were trying to meet last night before the City Planning Session.  I haven't heard anything yet though and am not too optimistic.

 

Everyone wants this area developed but there's a right and wrong way to go about it. Unfortunately, City Council always wastes money on consultants to come in and give educated recommendations based on their urban planning experience but then the city ignores them and beats to its own drum.   People are finally starting to get really pissed about it.

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This project has been a hot topic amongst city planners, council, and Re:Vision Norfolk and is largely viewed as a terrible project mainly due to all of the surface parking.  Certain members of city council are aggressively pushing this project (most likely because of backroom deals with the developer).   The city planning commission and Re:vision (especially the architects/planners that are members) are completely against it because of the design and are asking the developer to come back with a better one.  One that might include Retail on the first floor and hidden parking to be consistent with the General St. Paul's Plan that was developed years ago (and paid for and approved by city council).  That's the same plan many of us have seen that creates an entire mixed use neighborhood to include residential, street level retail/small businesses and parks.   Of course, the surface parking is also a waste of very expensive real estate.  This also comes just after the bus station project was moved to St. Paul's from Harbor Park wasting even more real estate.  It's almost like this perfect location full of potential is about to become a hodge-podge of projects that don't connect of flow with one another.  Anywho, City Planning Commission and Re:vision are trying to delay it and create discussion to at least come to a compromise.  I believe they were trying to meet last night before the City Planning Session.  I haven't heard anything yet though and am not too optimistic.

 

Everyone wants this area developed but there's a right and wrong way to go about it. Unfortunately, City Council always wastes money on consultants to come in and give educated recommendations based on their urban planning experience but then the city ignores them and beats to its own drum.   People are finally starting to get really pissed about it.

 

This building has everything wrong with it.  It doesn't comport to the vision at all, which should be a non-starter for the city.  The architecture is complete dreck.  I would not be shocked in any way if people in council had a vested interest in this being built (Burfoot + Cordish anyone?). 

 

It's not like Norfolk has a low apartment vacancy rate either and the city is pining for something like this.  I hope it gets rejected or is significantly redesigned.  This is just horrible.

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Yeah it looks like it's a suburban apartment campus dressed up a little bit to fit an urban environment sort of.  Not big on it myself either.  I don't know if we have really poor architectural talent in this area or if developers are just super cheap but I haven't seen much in appealing or innovative design here in a long time.

 

I was recently in Roanoke and it appears developers there aren't afraid of color at least.  Here's a couple new buildings in "The Bridges" district just out of downtown.

 

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Those who attended  the meeting who were opposed to it (architects/planners) were planning on bringing examples of mixed income/mixed use properties that were successful in other cities to show how things should be done.  And as a reminder, they were also bringing the city endorsed St. Paul's Plan. 

 

There are a ton of people who care about the direction of this city and are trying to do things about it DAILY.  Many of the positive things you've seen over the last few years came from their ideas and lobbying.  Unfortunately, there's a disconnect from these city advocates to the higher level city employees.  Sometimes it's easy to get to them, sometimes it's more difficult.  Working on NorfolkLive over the last few years has been an eye-opener.

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As much as I'd like to see SPQ take off, I'm not feeling that building at all. Very bland.

I'd put money on Burford gunning for this one.

If anything, I think a development like this would be a big shot in the foot as far as SPQ taking off. It's bland, takes a lot of space, and frankly doesn't add a whole lot in the way of population. This would be a bad move.

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Burfoot hasn't been on council in a year.

Yeah, but his ghost still lingers. I doubt he's the only one that can be swayed to abandon development principles if kickbacks are involved (lest we forget this gem http://hamptonroads.com/2013/03/developer-says-norfolk-vice-mayor-promised-him-votes). I share BFG's skepticism when it comes to the actions of council on high profile projects.

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What bothers me is how City Council is perfectly okay with bland, cookie-cutter design. I really hope that when the SPQ takes off, it'll be more architecture like the Slover library and the new City Hall, and less like that apartment design.

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What bothers me is how City Council is perfectly okay with bland, cookie-cutter design. I really hope that when the SPQ takes off, it'll be more architecture like the Slover library and the new City Hall, and less like that apartment design.

 

Yeah.  Unfortunately, city council isn't trained in architecture, urban planning and development.  Our council is made of members who are are doctors, lawyers and teachers.  And that's fine because that's how many city councils around the country are.  The problem is that even though ours lack that expertise, they don't always listen to the advice of the experts they've appointed (City Planning Commission and Architectural Design Committee) and in certain cases (like this one) certain members (not all of them) are influenced by backroom deals.

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Actually, nevermind.  Just received this note, "The land transfer sale to S.L. Nusbaum has been pulled from the City Council agenda and will be delayed for a year."

Nothing like a little sunshine on the process to bring about a change of heart :shades: . Great job to all those involved that didn't let the city get away with this. This is a rare win.

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I just looked over the PDF, and this is a very half-baked idea. With the current setup, why not just enclose the apartments off and create a courtyard, like many other new complexes do (Element at Ghent, The Alexander)? It creates more intimacy and probably safety. Instead of surface parking, either build an underground garage, or one attached to the building. What is the point of an isolated building like "Building B"?

 

I didn't realize it was just as much open parking as it is apartment buildings...that's a joke. I could almost forgive the design if it weren't such a waste of open space. From that part of town, you have a nice view of a growing downtown. I'd include a rooftop deck.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Keep an eye on this one. It's going back before design review february 9th.

 

So much for a one year delay.  The hopeful part of me wants to believe they've changed the design to fit into the SPQ vision.  The realist side of me says they delayed it a "year" to get people to forget and will try to pass this beast through the design review without community protest.

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