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Going through some old threads and I forgot about this gem, building a vertical expansion out of the federal courthouse. This would have been a compromise solution to the GSA having to buy and shut down the Granby Tower site. Needless to say this didn't happen, and 16 years later (GT was first proposed in 2004) the GSA is still sitting on prime property in downtown Norfolk with no end in sight as to the delay for this mythical courthouse they want to one day build.

 

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I thought once they had don the piles for Granby Tower it was going to rise, but no............

 

It still really ticks me off to this day. Granby Tower would have been transformative and the tower portion on the courthouse too.

 

So they killed Granby Tower and didn't expand the courthouse. 

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14 hours ago, baobabs727 said:

They are not fans of Sentara trying to force them to rely on state funding under the ODU umbrella. They’re not fans of Sentara angling to absorb them then withdraw their resources, thus shifting the funding burden to unreliable sources. Old Dominion does not have the resources (endowment is not impressive  and the alumni, by and large, are not wealthy) and the state will likely not provide them with adequate $$. if they’re guaranteed of a funding mechanism, they will “merge.”

EVMS has always had a stick up its butt when it comes to ODU.  I still think an EVMS - ODU merger is the best thing for both institutions, and the area as a whole, and reading the article it looks like it will probably happen in one form or another. 

Edited by Arctic_Tern
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I’d hate to see MacArthur go, but when I see just how much land that mall takes up, I’m perfectly okay with option 2 or 3 as well. That should’ve been mixed-use city blocks with a new arena from day one. Norfolk wanted to replace Scope going back to the mid-90s; I think I would’ve rather had that instead.

MacArthur changed downtown, no denying that, but city blocks with retail on the first couple floors, with 10-20 stories for residential, office, and hotel space would be amazing and have a shelf life beyond 20 years. I also think Granby Tower gets built if all that gets built in the 90s. 

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I like how they refer to the empty spot in the mall as the Macy's space. Lol.

I think this is the best opportunity to just start from scratch. Scope is very out of date and it doesn't seem like an arena will be built at Military Circle. Tear down MacArthur Mall.

Build an arena at the mall location, but do so with adjoining stores and restaurants that face the streets so it's not dead when an event isn't going on. Promise some of the mall stores retail space for the rest of the rebuilt street level grid roads built.

Street level retail, apartments and condos above. Businesses as well. Entertainment filling in elsewhere.

When that is done, tear down Scope. In its place, put in whatever the  city said it needed.... offices, music practice space (or whatever it was) for the symphony, a new city hall, new Federal court house facilities they are hoarding the old Granby Tower site for.

Then release the old Granby Tower site for private business to build on once again.

Me for Mayor. Lol.

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On 12/24/2020 at 4:45 PM, 757Duke said:

9490A6BD-B5CD-4E20-B336-688ECA298454.jpeg

 

So this view keeps coming up and is said to be a refreshingly nice, if not the nicest of the city, from the city. Unfortunately, what occupies this space right now is a  parking garage and a part of the mall that has zero visibility of this area.

 

I personally hope that the city demolishes the mall, reinstate a grid, and build with creating a better center city space in mind (especially in incorporating this park). You've got the Selden and Monticello Arcade, the downtown Library, the light rail and the MacArthur Museum/Memorial on one end, the Norva, Wells Theater, and Granby a block away on another side, and Apartments/Chrysler/Scope on the other end. Placemaking in this area should be pretty easy to encourage and invision. 

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Wow. Savages, all. Lol. 

I simply cannot advocate for number three at this time. Especially not until there is a concrete plan with signed tenants and full private and public funding in place, etc. for the next iteration of that space. The building has not outlived its usefulness. 20 years is nothing. Lynnhaven is 40 years old. Pembroke is over 50 years old. Town Center is approaching 20 years in some corners.   MacArthur has not deteriorated physically yet and still has good bones and tremendous redevelopment potential. Things are gonna have get a lot worse for me to go along with 3. 

Also, I would hate to lose Dillards in a total wipeout (#3).  That is a 265,000 square-foot East Coast flagship store which has no rival in this region (or now even in Richmond) in terms of size and variety of high quality offerings. They would have nowhere else to go, and Norfolk would basically have zero anchor retail in the entire city.  I don’t see them wanting to be a standalone store with nothing else there to support them either. I’m not saying there are direct parallels, but I don’t want to repeat the bulldozing of the 50s and 60s. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I would like to see that third anchor pad developed into an apartment/restaurant/entertainment complex, first. Perhaps offices plus grocery, Target  or something in Nordstrom. Offices on the third floor are ok, but I would also not want to lose all 18 screens (assuming someone takes over there) because the next closest multiplex movies are at Military Circle. And who knows how long they will be there. Do we really want to have zero multiplexes in the entire city ....along with zero anchor retail?  
After we do proposal number one along with the third anchor pad, we can see what happens and perhaps transition over the next 10 years to breaking up the mall into a street grid/open-aire format. But what we don’t want to do is just tear it down willy-nilly and then be left with a massive empty lot for the next 20 years. That is a distinct possibility if we proceed  without a doable and well-financed plan.

Zero doubt in my mind that Military Circle is the best location for an arena. I don’t think I really have to go into the why, do I?

 

Edited by baobabs727
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On 1/2/2021 at 11:39 PM, baobabs727 said:

Also, I would hate to lose Dillards in a total wipeout (#3).  That is a 265,000 square-foot East Coast flagship store which has no rival in this region (or now even in Richmond) in terms of size and variety of high quality offerings. They would have nowhere else to go, and Norfolk would basically have zero anchor retail in the entire city.  I don’t see them wanting to be a standalone store with nothing else there to support them either. I’m not saying there are direct parallels, but I don’t want to repeat the bulldozing of the 50s and 60s. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

 

Who says they have to kick them out. Hampton demoed the Coliseum Mall around Macy's and keep that building intact. They also kept JCPennys where they were and open until they had built the new building where they wanted them to be. I don't see how they couldn't use either option for Dillards.

 

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On 1/2/2021 at 11:39 PM, baobabs727 said:

Wow. Savages, all. Lol. 

I simply cannot advocate for number three at this time. Especially not until there is a concrete plan with signed tenants and full private and public funding in place, etc. for the next iteration of that space. The building has not outlived its usefulness. 20 years is nothing. Lynnhaven is 40 years old. Pembroke is over 50 years old. Town Center is approaching 20 years in some corners.   MacArthur has not deteriorated physically yet and still has good bones and tremendous redevelopment potential. Things are gonna have get a lot worse for me to go along with 3. 

Also, I would hate to lose Dillards in a total wipeout (#3).  That is a 265,000 square-foot East Coast flagship store which has no rival in this region (or now even in Richmond) in terms of size and variety of high quality offerings. They would have nowhere else to go, and Norfolk would basically have zero anchor retail in the entire city.  I don’t see them wanting to be a standalone store with nothing else there to support them either. I’m not saying there are direct parallels, but I don’t want to repeat the bulldozing of the 50s and 60s. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I would like to see that third anchor pad developed into an apartment/restaurant/entertainment complex, first. Perhaps offices plus grocery, Target  or something in Nordstrom. Offices on the third floor are ok, but I would also not want to lose all 18 screens (assuming someone takes over there) because the next closest multiplex movies are at Military Circle. And who knows how long they will be there. Do we really want to have zero multiplexes in the entire city ....along with zero anchor retail?  
After we do proposal number one along with the third anchor pad, we can see what happens and perhaps transition over the next 10 years to breaking up the mall into a street grid/open-aire format. But what we don’t want to do is just tear it down willy-nilly and then be left with a massive empty lot for the next 20 years. That is a distinct possibility if we proceed  without a doable and well-financed plan.

Zero doubt in my mind that Military Circle is the best location for an arena. I don’t think I really have to go into the why, do I?

 

Macarthur was misguided, as plenty of people said before it was built. The argument that the mall brought investment back to downtown is hollow too. Investment would have come with or without a mall, when regional and national trends came to Norfolk. Besides producing artificial scarcity in the real estate market, it makes no sense to have a suburban style shopping mall in the middle, the centerpiece even, of Hampton Road's most pedestrian area. Opening it up and connecting to St. Paul's would be great (option 2), but restoring the street grid would reorient the entire downtown. I can live without a multiplex. 

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22 hours ago, Norfolk757Kid said:

Macarthur was misguided, as plenty of people said before it was built. The argument that the mall brought investment back to downtown is hollow too. Investment would have come with or without a mall, when regional and national trends came to Norfolk. Besides producing artificial scarcity in the real estate market, it makes no sense to have a suburban style shopping mall in the middle, the centerpiece even, of Hampton Road's most pedestrian area. Opening it up and connecting to St. Paul's would be great (option 2), but restoring the street grid would reorient the entire downtown. I can live without a multiplex. 

Respecfully,  I disagree with nearly everything you said.  I could probably agree on some nuanced points, in shades of gray, but you appear to have a very black-and-white view of the  issue, so I’m not going to argue.

However, I will say that  hindsight is always 20/20. The Taubman companies brought with them $330 million of direct capital investment to Norfolk. And that is 1999 dollars.  This was the largest single investment ever in the history of the state of Virginia, south of Northern Virginia, for a retail and entertainment complex. Second place was not even close. That is a fact. Taubman had a sterling reputation and did their due diligence and homework for many years prior to committing funds.. They knew what they were doing.   Nothing in your preferred town center type format had been proposed in the 90’s, nor would it have been. This is what we got. Were we we supposed to reject the investment? 

Taubman convinced higher end retailers, who also have their own teams of market analysts and advisors—retailers with a cache that no other single developer or partnership could have or would have ever brought to Norfolk— to come to downtown Norfolk in an enclosed shopping mall.  Nationally, mall development was just starting to die around the time MacArthur was completed, but not so much as it was being conceived some 4 to 6 years earlier.   The Internet was a newborn relative to online retail. And so  it is not true that everyone knew what was going to happen to malls in the future between 1994 and 1999.

Taubman had 15 good, profitable years with this mall. The mall was not a failure.

The economic spin off effect was real, as well. Ask Mayor Fraim or any of the downtown Norfolk residents or DNC members. I don’t know where you’re coming from on this. So many millions upon millions of dollars were invested in building condominiums and apartments, and in redeveloping storefronts and encouraging new investment in restaurants,  in large part because of the development of MacArthur Center. 

Perhaps It’s generational. Including the movies. We’re not dead yet. ;)  And we have plenty of money.

So...having said that, I could go for option number two.   

edit: (sorry, I was trying to type earlier whilst eating fajitas out...yes, inside of a restaurant).  

Query:  How would you go about executing #2–mechanically/structurally, and precisely at what junctures/points? What would go away and what would remain? By the way, why no movies? LOL. Are you streaming on a 50 foot screen at home?  I guess you’re either a cinephile or you aren’t. Nothing quite like the big screen baby. 

Edited by baobabs727
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On 1/15/2021 at 4:45 PM, baobabs727 said:

Respecfully,  I disagree with nearly everything you said.  I could probably agree on some nuanced points, in shades of gray, but you appear to have a very black-and-white view of the  issue, so I’m not going to argue.

However, I will say that  hindsight is always 20/20. The Taubman companies brought with them $330 million of direct capital investment to Norfolk. And that is 1999 dollars.  This was the largest single investment ever in the history of the state of Virginia, south of Northern Virginia, for a retail and entertainment complex. Second place was not even close. That is a fact. Taubman had a sterling reputation and did their due diligence and homework for many years prior to committing funds.. They knew what they were doing.   Nothing in your preferred town center type format had been proposed in the 90’s, nor would it have been. This is what we got. Were we we supposed to reject the investment? 

Taubman convinced higher end retailers, who also have their own teams of market analysts and advisors—retailers with a cache that no other single developer or partnership could have or would have ever brought to Norfolk— to come to downtown Norfolk in an enclosed shopping mall.  Nationally, mall development was just starting to die around the time MacArthur was completed, but not so much as it was being conceived some 4 to 6 years earlier.   The Internet was a newborn relative to online retail. And so  it is not true that everyone knew what was going to happen to malls in the future between 1994 and 1999.

Taubman had 15 good, profitable years with this mall. The mall was not a failure.

The economic spin off effect was real, as well. Ask Mayor Fraim or any of the downtown Norfolk residents or DNC members. I don’t know where you’re coming from on this. So many millions upon millions of dollars were invested in building condominiums and apartments, and in redeveloping storefronts and encouraging new investment in restaurants,  in large part because of the development of MacArthur Center. 

Perhaps It’s generational. Including the movies. We’re not dead yet. ;)  And we have plenty of money.

So...having said that, I could go for option number two.   

edit: (sorry, I was trying to type earlier whilst eating fajitas out...yes, inside of a restaurant).  

Query:  How would you go about executing #2–mechanically/structurally, and precisely at what junctures/points? What would go away and what would remain? By the way, why no movies? LOL. Are you streaming on a 50 foot screen at home?  I guess you’re either a cinephile or you aren’t. Nothing quite like the big screen baby. 

 Oh yeah I understand that it's more complicated than me not wanting a shopping mall downtown (plus all the people the mall employs), but I'm just saying that it's possible that downtown could have rebounded and had its renaissance without the mall as well, just would have happened differently. I think it's significant that most of those high end retailers are not local businesses. 

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On 1/18/2021 at 10:54 AM, Norfolk757Kid said:

 Oh yeah I understand that it's more complicated than me not wanting a shopping mall downtown (plus all the people the mall employs), but I'm just saying that it's possible that downtown could have rebounded and had its renaissance without the mall as well, just would have happened differently. I think it's significant that most of those high end retailers are not local businesses. 

I have to go with Baobabs on this one.  Looking at it in the context of the 1980s when MacArthur was developed, it was the right call.  Yes, downtown would have developed without the mall, but when?  The mall site was cleared as part of the demolition frenzy of the 1960s.  For over 20 years, it was a vacant 17-acre parking lot.  Yes, there was a street grid, but the streets only served to separate the parking lot in one block from the parking lot on the next.  The city and NRHA tried to interest developers to develop the site, either as one megaproject for the entire 17 acres, or as individual projects.  There was some interest, but nothing ever progressed enough to put a shovel in the ground.  Then Taubmann came to town and said they would build an upscale shopping mall and put those 17 acres back on the tax rolls.  It was hard to argue “downtown will develop on its own without the mall” after 20+years of frustration.

Norfolk Aerial, 1966.jpg

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On 1/18/2021 at 10:54 AM, Norfolk757Kid said:

 Oh yeah I understand that it's more complicated than me not wanting a shopping mall downtown (plus all the people the mall employs), but I'm just saying that it's possible that downtown could have rebounded and had its renaissance without the mall as well, just would have happened differently. I think it's significant that most of those high end retailers are not local businesses. 

That’s all entirely valid.  And of course we will never know exactly what would’ve/could’ve happened in an alternate reality.  To your credit, you brought up a couple of points which I didn’t mention but did, in fact, consider. All of those jobs created over the past 22 years are one thing. Another issue is the fact that Nordstrom would’ve likely never come—and then maybe not Dillards either—to an open-air format in downtown.  And I don’t think the alternative vision would’ve generated the $260 to $300M dollars in annual sales, nor the attendant property and sales tax revenues, etc.  Certainly, it would’ve been different, looked different, operated differently while attracting a different clientele. Importantly, however, things would’ve developed much, much more slowly… If ever. 

TBH, I have always loved Town Centers. When I was a young boy, my family would drive up to Reston Town Center to spend the weekend around the holidays.  It’s true that we used to go to Tysons on occasion,  as well,  but Reston seemed like something very special to a boy from these parts lol.  It was really one of the first neo-urban TC’s in America. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in about 10- 20 years, MacArthur Center looked radically different than it does today...turned inside-out and oriented in a pedestrian-friendly way on a reconstituted street-grid. No surprise, really.  Supposedly, Pembroke Mall will be going that way eventually, as well. We all know that retail centers go through evolutions, cycles and phases, following along with larger market trends, etc.  And as other proximate power centers get developed and redeveloped,  their neighbor-players in the giant retail game must adapt and reinvent themselves—or face certain death. 

Edited by baobabs727
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Exactly what happened to Coliseum Mall in Hampton.  The Peninsula Town Center has reinvigorated the whole Hampton Coliseum/Mercury Blvd corridor.  I think McArthur will be remade in a similar fashion. but it will take place very slowly.  Military Highway corridor is just now starting the planning process to convert the mall into a town center.  I believe this project will be completed way before the redevelopment of McArthur Center

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Population question: up until about 40 or 50 years ago, the city had 300,000 people. Of course the great migration to the suburbs of VB and Chesapeake caused a decline, but Norfolk's been in the 240K range for the last decade, even with the growth of downtown.

As far as I know, while several areas were torn down in the 1950s and 60s, it shouldn't have resulted in 60K people leaving. Even being landlocked as a city, is there any way Norfolk could reclaim that number and get back to 300K? I know SPQ and Fort Norfolk are a start, but I just can't wrap my head around such a steep decline not caused by demolition.

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Well there’s that and also the average household size (number of people per household) declined too. In 1940 there were 3.67 people per household in the US. In 2010 there were 2.58. Thats a 30% drop in the number of people in an average US household. I’ve seen reports that household size increased during the 2010s for the first time in 160 years (to just over 2.6). 

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