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Va. Beach Town Center project 2


urbanvb

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And mistermetaj, I would suggest that it is the tree lined twenty foot wide sidewalks, home of many sidewalk cafes and street front retail, that make the Champs Elysees what it is -- not the four traffic lanes in each direction. Isn't it interesting that people are scared to cross VB Blvd without a skywalk -- never seen even a hint of that fear in Paris, with as much or more traffic on Champs Elysees. The entire streetscape has a traffic calming effect -- keep the streetscape (and sidewalk widths) you have now on VB Blvd, and you will never get the effect you desire.

if you think that is bad, you should see how some people are like here in Portland over a 4 lane road that runs east-west throught downtown, Burnside. For a while now we have been dealing with a few people that want to make it a one way street and eliminate a lane because it is too "unsafe" to cross. Either that or they secretly hate having to wait just a bit longer and have to actually pay attention before wondering out into the street. People in Portland would be slow moving targets for the drivers in Virginia :lol:

I really like the idea for burying Indy, that would create a cool green space to connect the four parts of downtown. Plus, eliminating that intersection might reduce some of the traffic issues. Indy should really feel like a freeway runoff for a bit before it becomes more of a road.

Also with the reducing the number of lanes for VB Blvd, it looks like what they would be doing is creating two one way roads or something along that line. Making Columbus and VB Blvd more like one way roads though downtown. If done right, with all three things in play, that would actually work. Who would of thought that VB could one day have a decent downtown, now if only they would tear down the Pembroke Mall, turn that whole property into blocks, build a new urban mall and sell off the rest of the blocks for redevelopment and one block turned into a park. That would really create a strong urban downtown for the city.

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Interesting read, MM -- thanks for finding it.

The brochure describing this talks about signage pointing to parking garages as a way to improve flow. I hope they consider the European style signage that incorporates real time available inventory into the directions. Example:

post-11351-1219408106_thumb.jpg

Since TC doesn't charge for parking, they would have to incorporate counters at both the entry and egress points, but shouldn't be very difficult.

And mistermetaj, I would suggest that it is the tree lined twenty foot wide sidewalks, home of many sidewalk cafes and street front retail, that make the Champs Elysees what it is -- not the four traffic lanes in each direction. Isn't it interesting that people are scared to cross VB Blvd without a skywalk -- never seen even a hint of that fear in Paris, with as much or more traffic on Champs Elysees. The entire streetscape has a traffic calming effect -- keep the streetscape (and sidewalk widths) you have now on VB Blvd, and you will never get the effect you desire.

Finally, VDogg -- this has gotten really :offtopic: for VB LR -- maybe move it to the VB CC/TC topic?

I agree, it is the cafe's street scene etc that makes the Champs the Champs, however, having a wide open blvd. I believe with 8 lanes and no median is also a defining element of it. It is very spacious on the side walks as well as in the street. I would like the blvd for at least a decent stretch to resmeble this.

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I agree, it is the cafe's street scene etc that makes the Champs the Champs, however, having a wide open blvd. I believe with 8 lanes and no median is also a defining element of it. It is very spacious on the side walks as well as in the street. I would like the blvd for at least a decent stretch to resmeble this.

Very ambitious hope, but I share it, to an extent. The only thing about the Champs Elysees and VB Blvd (well, not the ONLY thing) is the differences in street-scape: the Champs is defined by mid-rise structures (each hitting a certain height at the roofline, as declared by a 19th century law when the city was master-planned), whereas VB Blvd is defined by a mixture of one-story shopping centers, and now, distinctly HIGH-rising buildings on the southern side.

I think moving toward a wide, tree-lined avenue with broad sidewalks is a great goal, however. Redevelop the streetscape along the northside, move in some matured trees, widen the sidewalk DRAMATICALLY, and focus on bringing in cafes and boutiques, as well as the practical chain restaurants and banks that are currently there. Just bring the eye-level up a bit with mid-rise buildilngs. Realistically, VB Blvd will never have the Champs feel, but I think it has great potential to become a great blvd on its own... A vibrant, aestetically-pleasing streetscape would be quite a boon to the downtown-feel, and to Town Center itself.

http://www.wt-group.com/stpics/Paris/Champs_Elysees_2.jpg

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the Champs is defined by mid-rise structures (each hitting a certain height at the roofline, as declared by a 19th century law when the city was master-planned
yea, where is Baron Haussmann when we need him? :camera: I think we talked about this very subject back in January:

Problem is making it happen in VB

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yea, where is Baron Haussmann when we need him? :camera: I think we talked about this very subject back in January:

Problem is making it happen in VB

Ah! Indeed we did haha. That was what I will refer to as the "dark times" (18 credits and a job - I was sorta MIA for a few months there).

I really wish the city had been planned more thoughtfully from day one, as soon as the suburbs began sprouting up in the 60s and especially from the 70s through the 90s. Virginia Beach could look completely different than it does now. Don't get me wrong, I love visiting VB (it's about 45 min from my house) - but it could be more... thoughtfully planned. A little more convenient from the standpoint of traffic concerns and curbing sprawl, etc.

Maybe Suffolk will do better? Thus-far, I don't think they have been doing muchhh better...

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I really wish the city had been planned more thoughtfully from day one, as soon as the suburbs began sprouting up in the 60s and especially from the 70s through the 90s. Virginia Beach could look completely different than it does now.

Well, I'd enjoy seeing pigs sprout wings and fly, but if you go back to the 1963 formation of the current VB, it was destined to grow the way it did to accomodate all of the people fleeing the racial turmoil in Norfolk. The schlock, lowest possible cost developments like Green Run and Ocean Lakes, were targeted at the housing allowances of Navy enlisted. The city grew rich off development fees, and really didn't care about HOW the city developed.

The idea of modeling Paris is admirable, but doomed to disappointment. First, the French value style as much as content. The Golden Corral crowding populus of VB couldn't be farther from that value system. Second, it is density that gives the boulevards of Paris the vibrancy that makes them. Paris' density is right at 25K/Km2. VB's is around 661/km2. I don't see, at least in my lifetime, the people that are attracted to VB, willing to live in that level of density, even if it is in a small area around TC. You have to be willing to live in flats, in four to six story buildings, to get to that density. The third problem is that VB doesn't have the infrastructure that would support that density. Start with parks -- nothing like Luxembourg Gardens or Bois de Boulogne. Might be possible to make Mt. Trashmore into VB's Luxembourg Gardens -- it is twice the size. Need to have easier access from TC, across 264, for starters. Need to have LR extended to VB. Then you can get to the style vs. content mindset.......

Edited by scm
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Well, I'd enjoy seeing pigs sprout wings and fly, but if you go back to the 1963 formation of the current VB, it was destined to grow the way it did to accomodate all of the people fleeing the racial turmoil in Norfolk. The schlock, lowest possible cost developments like Green Run and Ocean Lakes, were targeted at the housing allowances of Navy enlisted. The city grew rich off development fees, and really didn't care about HOW the city developed.

The idea of modeling Paris is admirable, but doomed to disappointment. First, the French value style as much as content. The Golden Corral crowding populus of VB couldn't be farther from that value system. Second, it is density that gives the boulevards of Paris the vibrancy that makes them. Paris' density is right at 25K/Km2. VB's is around 661/km2. I don't see, at least in my lifetime, the people that are attracted to VB, willing to live in that level of density, even if it is in a small area around TC. You have to be willing to live in flats, in four to six story buildings, to get to that density. The third problem is that VB doesn't have the infrastructure that would support that density. Start with parks -- nothing like Luxembourg Gardens or Bois de Boulogne. Might be possible to make Mt. Trashmore into VB's Luxembourg Gardens -- it is twice the size. Need to have easier access from TC, across 264, for starters. Need to have LR extended to VB. Then you can get to the style vs. content mindset.......

Haha, very well put ;lol;

I think it's a good thing to work toward, however. I am sure that we could improve the access to and utilization of Mt. Trashmore, and perhaps develop walkable points of interest around it (thus building-up an entire walkable area in Pembroke; with LR access, that'd help immensely). Beyond that, we'll NEVER be Paris, but we can do our own thing and become great as well, in our own right :).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some interesting info that I heard this weekend. I was told the Westin (hotel portion) is doing well and they need more conference space so they are going to build a 5 story building across the street in the area now used as a staging area. There will be another sky-bridge connecting the two. The bottom floor is to be more retail.

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I heard it from a friend that lives in Studio 56. I am not sure about the additional condos/apartments but they also plan on a botique hotel as well.

I might add housing is really down right now. Studio 56 still has 26 units left as well as the Westin having numerous units left to sell. They may have decided against any housing due to the current downturn.

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I heard it from a friend that lives in Studio 56. I am not sure about the additional condos/apartments but they also plan on a botique hotel as well.

I might add housing is really down right now. Studio 56 still has 26 units left as well as the Westin having numerous units left to sell. They may have decided against any housing due to the current downturn.

Yes, it is haha... Hmm I wonder if they dropped the prices of any of those lofts so I can finally afford one...

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I figured this would happen with the Westin...though it is a shame they didnt plan this into it because of how big the block is for the building, they could of easily made this an addition to the same block. Good to hear they need more space though. I am guessing any new residential in the town center right now will be apartments. Would be nice if they built some affordable apartments or something.

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Regarding the Taco Bell lot, it may have mentioned before but....

As someone very familiar with the industry, the owner of Taco Bell will almost definitively sell when the right offer comes along. Why?

It dawned on me the other day when i was driving past it on the way home from work...it's still the old 1990s style Taco Bell, with one of the highest volume locations in the state, in a very high profile and traffic location. Everything says this store should have been remodeled and/or retro-fitted with the newer style TB years ago (like many other less likely locations). Why not remodel? Because sooner or later there's going to be a sale. It doesn't make sense to put $1.5 - $3 million into updating, when you know you'll be selling the location.

Does that make sense, lol :lol:

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Regarding the Taco Bell lot, it may have mentioned before but....

As someone very familiar with the industry, the owner of Taco Bell will almost definitively sell when the right offer comes along. Why?

It dawned on me the other day when i was driving past it on the way home from work...it's still the old 1990s style Taco Bell, with one of the highest volume locations in the state, in a very high profile and traffic location. Everything says this store should have been remodeled and/or retro-fitted with the newer style TB years ago (like many other less likely locations). Why not remodel? Because sooner or later there's going to be a sale. It doesn't make sense to put $1.5 - $3 million into updating, when you know you'll be selling the location.

Does that make sense, lol :lol:

It makes a lot of sense! And I hope they sell soon and we get a building taller than the Westin on that lot! I know, I can dream, right? :)

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  • 1 month later...

City weighs tax district to fund pedestrian bridge

A proposed special tax district could expand the boundaries of Town Center across Virginia Beach Boulevard, lead to the reinvention of Pembroke Mall and help fund the long-sought pedestrian bridge between the two.

I'm surprised no one has posted this by now. I think it would be great to expand the boundaries of TC. In the article it states the city would have to obviously approve and Pembroke Mall would have to make a major capital investment. Somehow I don't see the mall doing this at least not right now with this economy. And the rendering for Pembroke Promenade is gone from the back of the mall which also does not bode well for a future expansion from the mall's prospective.

Edited by urbanvb
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it will take a long time and we probably wont see the first moves until the economy bounces back, but I have always felt that the next move for the city and the developers would be to expand the downtown into pembroke mall's land. It is the direction with the least resistance, ie, the suburban shopping center that is planned in between the town center and the old HQ site.

The cool thing is, if they incorporated a street grid on the pembroke site and redeveloped the mall to be an urban mall, that would make VB one of the largest downtowns in the region based on land size.

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  • 1 month later...

Beach council puts off vote for phase for until Jan. "They wanted the new council to come in and have buy-in on the phase four." :unsure:

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/12/beach-coun...-phase-till-jan

Nothing to worry about. If you look at the article the new incoming members also support the project. The main reason seems to be ironing out exactly how much the developer will pay, though all those interviewed think the project will pass. The Beacon land deal is already done so there should be no delay in the construction of the pilots space.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Looks like the city approved spending $60m for the next phase of TC. Since it won't be complete for 3 years hopefully the economy will have rebounded by then.

Pilot Story

My only complaint is that ground breaking is not expected til late this year!!!

Oh well, I'm glad to see Virginia Beach seeing this 10 year project all the way through...way to go!

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Unfortunately, I have to agree with the naysayers on the expenditure of 60M to jumpstart the next phase of town center. At a time when the city is facing a budget shortfall and a weak economy it seems to me that this type of subsidy is not a prudent use of taxpayer money. If Town Center is such a success why can't it sustain itself without city intervention?

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