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juancapitalcitydc

Downtown Newport News

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There is a lot of talk around town about the transformation Downtown Newport News will undertake. There is talk of water-front high rise condos, a MacArthur Center type Mall and more.

Here're a few pix of downtown NN!

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There is a lot of talk around town about the transformation Downtown Newport News will undertake. There is talk of water-front high rise condos, a MacArthur Center type Mall and more.

There is? Where??

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There is? Where??

I'll try to find pictures of it but there is a historic building Downtown already converted into condos, selling for over $100,000. My mother works in real estate in Newport News. She said there is a lot in the works. Investors are are going to be investing in DT NN! Trust me! This is inside info.

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That's great!! DT NN sure need something. I thought for sure the city had given up on DT to focus more attention on City Center.

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There is? Where??

I think its a reference to those DT anvy condos that are supposed to house some 700 sailors and some other stuff. Haven't heard about a MacArthur style mall though.

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I think its a reference to those DT anvy condos that are supposed to house some 700 sailors and some other stuff. Haven't heard about a MacArthur style mall though.

No, this isn't the sailor housing. I'm referring to loft-style condos. I'll have to scan the pic in and post because I could not find it on the web for the life of me. A lot is coming down in DT NN. The wrecking ball is on it's way. There is a huge site along the James that is public housing. It's all coming down at the hands of private developers. City Center is great but lets face it, there is no river front real estate there.

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Actually I think Juan is right. In DT NN by the shipyard were some old abandoned buildings (not far from the residential towers, lowrise apartments). However, recently I did see that one of the buildings had been converted to condominiums and were being sold - though I can't recall for how much. They're right off West Ave and near the downtown library and one of the entrances to the shipyard.

Juan you should remember to distinguish between Downtown proper, which is what we're talking about here, and the Southeast community (ironically north of Downtown) which is where there is riverfront real estate being sought after and developed (like by Champion Development). I don't think there's any open riverfront real estate in DT proper.

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City Center is great but lets face it, there is no river front real estate there.
Don't tell CMSS that they'll design City Center one of the most insipid rivers in the country.

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I hope they can turn that downtown around. The Norfolk model, in which lots of middle class housing returns within and around the core could help. Downtown NN has a tremendous advantage in terms of the network of freeway ramps, something that no other downtown in HR has. There are river vistas, character and history, assets that should make Oyster Point clam up in shame. Oyster Point has no soul and no character. It's a collection of cowardly, architecturally uninspired, banal misfires (IMO).

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I like downtown NN too padman but good god ...

Downtown is not a panacea. It's different from Norfolk in that it's really not that much more than limited municipal office space, the port, and the shipyard. Time and urban renewal projects knocked down most of the buildings with any character. During the daytime it hums with activity because of the volume of people who do work there, but at night you'll find more nightlife in Isle of Wight. The fact that so much of downtown had been demolished or paved over (partly to clear way for those highway overpasses you speak of) means firstly that there is less opportunity to revitalize old historic buildings like you had in Norfolk or in Richmond. On the other hand, the greyfields do allow the possibility for builders to put in developments that can remake the downtown in the way they feel is more aesthetically pleasing, pedestrian oriented, etc. The biggest problem is sharing the space with the Shipyard workers, whose rampaging traffic is unmatched by drivers anywhere in VA save inside the beltway. Tempering that and actually convincing people that DT is open for business are daunting tasks.

I think you're being unfair to Oyster Point. As a whole, that area has developed magnificently. I live in Richmond right now and I can't imagine what I would do if the Oyster Point corridor looked anything like Henrico (shudders) or Midlothian. As far as suburban developments go, it's not bad at all. With regards to City Center and Port Warwick, I have to completely disagree. If you go to those places (esp Port Warwick since it's had time to mature), you really do get a sense of place that is impossible to find in many other developments. However, if you're of the opinion that all contemporary architecture is utter crap and can't replicate that sense of 'place,' then it's a moot discussion.

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port warwick

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victory arch (i put this picture on the wikipedia post for Newport News)

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VASCIC (DT NN)

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view from the VASCIC waterfront promenade in DT NN

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By the way, Juan, tell me more about retail in DT NN. You said something about a MacArthur type mall? Can you elaborate? Frankly, I don't think something like that would work right now even if the city did have the backing to do something that big in downtown. In Norfolk, MacArthur Mall capped like 20 years of gradual and consistent redevelopment. You can't just plop down a landmark and expect everything to become hunky-dory.

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I wonder how an upscale shopping mall could survive in downtown Newport News. City Center is drawing all the upscale, business retailers like Chico's and Jos.A.Bank. The proposed redevelopment of Coliseum Mall will only saturate the market. How would a DTNN mall fit in?

As for City Center. It is successful, but it is not a downtown. It is walkable, but it is not urban. What gives a place "soul" in reference to Padman's comment, is individual development. Every building is different and not a reflection of another. They are planned but not master planned. This is where City Center and TC differ from downtown Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk. They are the manifestations of one developer working with one architect. Mercuex, you speak of Port Warwick's sense of place, yet it won't match the true sense of place of say Baltimore's Greek Town. Does a townhome owner in Port Warwick get to raze his and build something that reflects his personality? One townhome is the same as the next, which is a great marketing tool because people think Port Warwick and immediately village greens and brick buildings come to mind or vice versa. Just imagine if instead of all brick townhomes or all contemporary mid-rise offices, you have some neo-classical, some post-modern, some minimalist, some Colonial, etc. just to break the monotony.

Anyway, these developments are great because they're bringing back social interaction that was lost to cookie-cutter subdivisions and daytime office parks, yet they're still urban lite.

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Honestly, the only thing I don't like about city center is it's location seems to be in the middle of nowhere. It is an Oasis of urban development that I wish had far more of a connection with its surroundings. I would love to see the day when development extends all the way from City Center to the freeway. As for a Macmall type development in DT NN? I don't see that being successfull on any level yet. Once the DT navy housing is complete and they add some other development in there I believe such a thing can be successful, but now is a bit premature.

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I understand the economics of Oyster Point, and I love a great deal of contemporary architecture, some say to a fault. But I do dislike the Oyster Point architecture on a very subjective and visceral level. And I dislike it intensely. I find it bland, unimaginative, stupifying and utterly void of excitement. It doesn't make a statement. It goes out of it's way not to make a statement. Like the architectural equivalent of a chain hotel night club band, it is only about making money, money and more money. Not that that alone is a fault. Like a "starving artist" parking lot art show, it caters to a tasteless bourgeois with cheap stage set post modern winks to classicism and cliche ridden suburban frumpiness. I believe that cities and architectural firms alike have a responsibility to provide aesthetic and social relevance in their work, especially with projects as significant as this one.

Downtown Newport News was shamefully abandoned decades ago. Call it racism, classism, or just plain lack of inertia, but apparently there was no real vision or will to recussitate it. But look at that network of highways down there! And the setting! I know it's a rough area. In the early 70s someone pulled a knife on me in front of the Shipyard Apartments. I just think it has a lot more potential than some bland, suburban, yuppified invention could ever have.

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I think we're tangled in inappropriate parameters here. Why is it that a neighborhood like the Fan, Church Hill, Ghent, Huntington Heights, Hilton or Freemason are all considered to have that 'sense of place' when none of them were spontaneous accidents of fate and chance, but master developments. What gives a place its sense of being is experiences, memories, and a community bond for the neighborhood rather than some defined architectural style. Honestly, I'll be the first to admit that older homes and apartments to me are much more architecturally interesting and beautiful than much of what we build today, but I think much of the contemporary designs we employ (even in oyster point) is vastly superior to those modernist monstrosities of yesteryear.

If you look at the apartments going up at City Center and the residences at Port Warwick, they are well-constructed (very well constructed by modern standards, I'd say), aesthetically pleasing, and they at least nod to the elements of what made a place nice to live. Padman I know exactly what you're saying, but I look at it as being a pretty incredible deal that they've come this far. Just because it appeals mostly to rich toffs doesn't change the fact that catching a jazz concert at Port Warwick in the summertime really feels awesome. It's not simulated - it's real because when you spend time there it becomes real. Port Warwick is only maturing further and so will City Center in due time.

Frankly, I think the architecture is pretty good all things considered. As far as class-A office space it's definitely top-notch, DT Norfolk quality. And the residential really is the kind that will age really well. The only place that I find the architecture to be rather uninspiring is the retail areas - but it isn't finished and frankly I don't know how it'll turn out when it's completed.

The thing about CityCenter/Port Warwick is that even though they are 'isolated' (all of Newport News is pretty much isolated), trolleys will soon be linking them to the Mall and the Airport. At the same time, CNU and Port Warwick (in case you haven't checked it out) are pretty much blending into one another. Soon the trees will come down and you'll have a more noticeable stream of people going back and forth between CNU and Port Warwick. The whole area is in the process of being made pedestrian friendly (especially between City Center and Port Warwick). Don't forget that City Center is pretty much smack-dab in the center of the Peninsula. That wasn't a mistake.

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I think we're tangled in inappropriate parameters here. Why is it that a neighborhood like the Fan, Church Hill, Ghent, Huntington Heights, Hilton or Freemason are all considered to have that 'sense of place' when none of them were spontaneous accidents of fate and chance, but master developments. What gives a place its sense of being is experiences, memories, and a community bond for the neighborhood rather than some defined architectural style. Honestly, I'll be the first to admit that older homes and apartments to me are much more architecturally interesting and beautiful than much of what we build today, but I think much of the contemporary designs we employ (even in oyster point) is vastly superior to those modernist monstrosities of yesteryear.

I see what you're saying. In time, the development will be parceled off and sold. And individual owners will rework the properties to suit their needs and tastes. With that will come the architectural diversity. But in order to get to that point, someone needs to plant the seed as has been in the past and was done with City Center, Port Warwick, and TC. These places may not feel genuine, because as you say place is an extrapolation of experience and memories, but in 50 years they will feel real.

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We simply disagree, and that's fine. There are new developments all over the country that have both character and potential. Town Center in VB is one of them. It's not just a matter of the passage of time, although that can make a difference. There is such a thing as quality of design and of inspiration. Oyster Point just doesn't work for me, as a planner and a lover of urban spaces. I don't know who or what held it back from being better than it is, but I think that the community deserved better.

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I suppose so. Personally, I can't fathom how TC is somehow better than City Center. As a matter of fact, I prefer CC to TC, but I guess we just disagree.

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TC might not be intrinsically better than CC, but by God it sure tries to be. The state's tallest building? An office building that's also retaurants and shops and parking, and even tried to include a hotel? And, to boot, it even stuck a lego rocket ship on top to gain "tallest in HR" status. A fountain and plaza that might be worthy of one of the best European centers, with entertainment and restaurants, and a performing arts theater. It's a crazy mixture of excessive statements, and that's what I like about it. It's not sterile, even though there could be more locally owned restaurants and shops.

It's funny, but Port Warwick is a little eccentric too. Look at the variety of the architecture, and those outlandish sculptures! And don't you love those 3,000 sq.ft. lofts with the stores on the ground level? There's an old folks home that looks like a luxurious mountain resort, a 50s industrial modern apartment building, and a town square.

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TC is urban. CC is urban in the park. Le Corb would be proud.

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Va Business gave their 2002 award to CC, not TC. But I'm not going to succumb to bashing the TC project because I think its a good development overall. You have to remember that even though VB is a giant suburban hell, it's still a city of nearly 500,000 and the fact that I can even compare CC to TC is testament to something special about NN.

To hell with southside.

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:rolleyes: Oh good lord. I think this thread should be renamed "Do you live in Virginia Beach, or Newport News?" I think I posted an article in the development thread about the differences between TC and CC. When I find it i'll link to it. I think it helps put things in perspective a bit because the article makes the point that while they may be similar projects, they have different goals. TC is heavy on the sense of place and residential side while CC is focusing on the commercial/retail side for now. In time, I expect both these projects to make their way towards a compromise between these ideas.

P.S. I'm not quite sure what i'm gonna do with this thread yet. I was thinking about separating the pics out and putting in an NN pics thread and putting the rest of this in NN development.

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Good Lord just do something that breaks this powderkeg of a thread up. :lol:

But I'll say this, in the defense of both, City Center is so infinitely better than anything Newport News has ever had, and I think the CC-supporters are right on; it's fantastic in the transformation it has brought and holds great promise for the future, especially in conjunction with Port Warwick, CNU, and other possible redevelopments.

TC in Virginia Beach is a totally different development for a totally different city. I'm envious of its scale and some of the things it has brought to the city in terms of the retail and the PAC, however, it has its drawbacks. Architecturally, it's crap. I'm sorry, the scale is fabulous and impressive and I love the project as a whole, but the architecture goes beyond bland. At least there's quasi-variety in CC (though I hate the main office tower. It makes me want to cry).

*sigh* That's my 2 cents, but keep in mind, I love both projects. It's just that it's comparing apples to oranges... like the damned Norfolk/Richmond comparisons. URGH!

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