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what could/should VB oceanfront become?

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Interesting to follow the current "oceanfront angst" confounding the VB city council. I have asked several friends, long time residents, why the oceanfront is the way it is. Many varied responses, but the recurring theme is that the city has never had a comprehensive plan, so the landowners developed what they want. Another opinion was that for years, the marketing was focused on filling the rooms, which kept the waffle houses packed and the tee shirt shops hopping. No one cared if the people that were attracted spent $500 on a week's stay, or $5000. The point was to keep the rooms filled.

So, the question I would like to pose, is what should/could the oceanfront become? Is there anything wrong with what it is now? Why couldn't it become at least the equal of Myrtle Beach, with all of the entertainment options there are there?

Open for discussion.

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Why couldn't it become at least the equal of Myrtle Beach, with all of the entertainment options there are there?

Because they don't want entertainment options down there, it doesn't fit with their "family friendly" environment. I am a relatively young man, of drinking age, and I can tell you without a doubt that I am exactly the type of demographic they're trying to keep away from the Oceanfront. I'm not rich by any means but I am not poor either and the amount of money I spend per weekend at various other clubs/bars is nothing to sneeze at. I consider myself average among my particular demographic and I am a local. I don't think these people have any concept of how much money could be generated by making the Oceanfront a year round destination for everyone, not just tourists and the rich, but locals, minorities, and the less afluent. We gain nothing by turning our most valuable real estate into an elitists destination. I think that with proper planning we can have an entertainment district for those of us young enough to still have fun that can peacefully coexists with the councils family friendly environment. It's all in where you put things, and how you market them.

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I have never been to Myrtle Beach myself. But I agree the lack of a comprehensive plan has made to Oceanfront is to what is today, a hotpodge of everything. I do wish all the hotels were not blocking the ocean views. That is a big mistake IMO. What kind of other entertainment options might be viable for that area? I can kind of see why the city is clamping down on clubs and such down in that area. It has become such a party atmosphere down there and sometimes not for the best. I think a combination of high end and regular establishments may kind of quell some of that. They do need to cater towards the working professional and the others that frequent the area.

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Well the youth are down there and they are having problems with crime and people urinating on walls and causing problems. I understand what you are saying but there always people screwing it up for others. Vabeach's crimes is starting to climb and the oceanfront is the key to the rise.

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Agreed, me and my girlfriend went down to the oceanfront last Saturday for the Neptune Festival around 7:30, and you could almost feel the environment and demographic change from when we arrived to when we left at 11:30. The crowd got younger, louder, rowdier, just made it uncomfortable to be around. I rarely visit the Oceanfront, i'm rather spend $12 a shot on Granby St then to deal with traffic, parking, tourists and morons on a weekend at the beach.

The problem is they don't have a plan, but everything comes out in bits and pieces. Fork over millions for a new convention center, then they have hush hush discussions about how they're already losing to competition because they dont' have a 'marquee' hotel next door. We didn't buy the gazillion dollar buses that got Richard Maddox (blowhard) kicked out of office, so let's spend another couple million and make a mile and a half long sidewalk for people to walk from the convention center. Build beautiful million dollar hotels next door to rundown motels.

I agree with vdogg, the oceanfront could come up with a way to make both demographics come together, perhaps pushing the entertainment district back to Pacific of Baltic, allowing Atlantic Ave to become a tourist, retail haven. It would come to district zoning that might create what we need. But we sure don't need more plans and studies to figure out the solution.

Well the youth are down there and they are having problems with crime and people urinating on walls and causing problems. I understand what you are saying but there always people screwing it up for others. Vabeach's crimes is starting to climb and the oceanfront is the key to the rise.

Dont forget the late night rendevous on the beaches when the crowds get out of the clubs n bars, there's been plenty of nights at passion on the beaches after last call.

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Add a few casino's! :D

Anyone ever propose gambling ships in VB? They "cruise to nowhere" (three miles -- US territorial limits -- about 45 minutes), and have plenty of slots, a few BJ and poker tables. Big business in Fla and SC. Does Va. law specifically ban them (not from what I can find, but might not have every source). Any thoughts on that?

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Because they don't want entertainment options down there, it doesn't fit with their "family friendly" environment.

Do you really equate Chicho's or Hammerhead's with Hard Rock Cafe or House of Blues? I understand your unhappiness with the trend in city policy regarding "The Block", but I have to believe that a Margaritaville would be welcomed with open arms -- probably a little better reception than a Ba-Da-Bing II. Thoughts?

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The Virginia Beach ocean front should focus on more striking arhitecture,taller buildings with lots of glass,and maybe some casinos.

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Anyone ever propose gambling ships in VB? They "cruise to nowhere" (three miles -- US territorial limits -- about 45 minutes), and have plenty of slots, a few BJ and poker tables. Big business in Fla and SC. Does Va. law specifically ban them (not from what I can find, but might not have every source). Any thoughts on that?

VB banned them. Or more specifically, they banned any vessel with a casino from docking within Virginia Beach. One developer wanted to transform a decrepit marina off of W. Great Neck into the dock for such a vessel. He was blocked. Instead it was turned into the fancy Long Pointe Marina.

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The Virginia Beach ocean front should focus on more striking arhitecture,taller buildings with lots of glass,and maybe some casinos.

Taller? You'll have to wait until Oceana leaves. Or be a Marriott, Hyatt, or similar class hotel like was pulled off with the Hilton. Exemptions are such lovely things.

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Do you really equate Chicho's or Hammerhead's with Hard Rock Cafe or House of Blues? I understand your unhappiness with the trend in city policy regarding "The Block", but I have to believe that a Margaritaville would be welcomed with open arms -- probably a little better reception than a Ba-Da-Bing II. Thoughts?

No but honestly their scattershot approach to this and outright inability to think beyond reactionary measures leaves something to be desired. I have yet to see one coherent city plan regarding entertainment at the Oceanfront. The only thing they seem capable of is saying what they don't want. I love Granby street and would love for an area of the Oceanfront to obtain that type of atmosphere. Would a Premiere be welcome on the Oceanfront? Would Time? What exactly are their guidelines for desired and undesired clubs? So far their focus seems to be on just getting rid of the bars/clubs period, which I feel is short-sighted and unwarranted. Perhaps they don't want a concentration of bars at all. Perhaps split them up and disperse them evenly along the Oceanfront thus making crowds smaller and easier to manage. Basically I want to see something come out of their mouths other than "we don't want this" or "we don't want that element" in order for them to have any credibility with regards to this issue.

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Logistically would be hard to pull off, but i think if they set a boundary for entertainment, such as places closing after 11 PM to Pacific or Baltic, keeping it off the Strip, would allow tourists to have their part and locals and younger crowds to have theirs at most times. Then it wouldnt matter if you had a Bada Bing on one end and a Time-esque on the other, police could patrol the street regardless, much along the same lines at Granby St. If it was concentrated or given boundaries, they could control and hold the situation much closer. however, like i said, logistically it's virtually impossible. So we get lawsuits, bright lights at 1 AM, noise violations, ABC restrictions and loophole legislation instead of what's really needed......a plan. vdogg is right, there's no foundation to base anything they're saying on.

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VB banned them. Or more specifically, they banned any vessel with a casino from docking within Virginia Beach. One developer wanted to transform a decrepit marina off of W. Great Neck into the dock for such a vessel. He was blocked. Instead it was turned into the fancy Long Pointe Marina.

That's too bad, on one hand, because the county outside MB is getting $3.5M/yr. in boarding fees. Bet the "Pirate Ship" ain't paying that. But, the other hand, is because of that, we now have the wonderful One Fish Two Fish in the Marina.

When you look at all of the entertainment options in MB, we just pale by comparison, and I have to think it restricts the amount of money the average VB visitor spends when they are here.

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Myrtle has a longer season and draws 4 times the tourists as VB. The Strand is 20 times longer than the Strip and has resorts rather than just hotels. The town has over 100 golf courses. Exactly how is VB supposed to compete? And really why should VB compete? It isn't a resort town, but a city with a resort industry. VB has the best bond ratings and a budget surplus (even in down years, revenues are fairly good). It doesn't need to experiment with the Strip to get more money out of it. Ever since Greekfest 89, VB has gone with safe and it's worked. Why start tweaking the model to squeeze out a couple extra bucks when the risks don't warrant it (casinos and the Block)?

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They need to move away from being a typical resort area. Most resort areas have a nice two three streets of strip and then low end single family housing the rest of the way. This may sounds very urbanish, but we need to rip down all those decrepit single family homes and replace them with more dense housing for residence to live there. That brings the Oceana issue up, but we'll just assume population density is actually allowed to occur. This would be especially needed on 19th street to connect the convention center to the strip. A new hotel by the convention center wouldnt be needed if the area were nice to walk through. Furthermore, population density is key to making the strip a year round destination. Stores would stay open longer if there were actually VB residence living next to them and they didnt have to completely rely on tourists. Also, depending on the people who lived on the strip, an entertainment district would develop around them. Most likely, if it werent too pricy, more young people from the area would want to live down there closer to the beach for surfing and in proximity to the bars in the area. Not to mention, 264 access is right there as well.

Regardless, I won't get my hopes up on any real nice oceanfront redevelopment besides cookie cutter hotels, since it seems Oceana will never allow a real population down there.

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I agree very much with most of what has been said here. The resort strip is an "urban" resort, so it has a very different character than a Myrtle Beach type of resort. We are lucky to have it and I don't think we've made the most of it by a long shot. There are some strong competing interests there, and all have significant political muscle in the City. The North End, Croatan and Old Beach residents, the Navy and the the hotel interests all have a lot to say about what happens on the strip. And yet the place is a playground for all Hampton Roads, and beyond. The ocean is all but walled off and public access is often a nightmare, there's surprisingly little to do and even the shopping is marginal there.

I've long advocated building high-rise housing and mixed use development there, so that it the oceanfront could emerge as more of a true neighborhood, but the Navy has other ideas, although they can't really stop such development outright. Orienting the night-life east-west along a narrow corridor would help make the nights more "family friendly." The many festivals and events are a good start, but there's a need for some nice, permanent attractions and a central gathering place, perhaps at the old Dome site. Where in the hell is the private sector on this? Does the City have to come up with everything except for subdivisions,WalMarts and Wawas?

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Orienting the night-life east-west along a narrow corridor would help make the nights more "family friendly."

I was thinking the exact same thing while showering this morning. Instead of the current set-up of narrow bars empyting onto a main street, the City can close off a side street at 10 p.m. which it has done for family-oriented shows. That side street will be the only area in which bars can operate (any place open past 12 a.m. for more than two nights a week). The area would be more easily patroled/monitored by police and any incidents would occur away from Altantic Ave pedestrians. It would have an adjacent taxi drop-off/pick-up zone and beremoved from parking areas (discourage drunk driving). By having the area a few blocks from the closest garage/lot, police could observe the patrons for inebriated behavior to prevent them from driving off. I don't want to see a DUI arrest but a fine or public drunkness citation and call for a cab. The City should also institute a next-day car pick-up service in which bar patrons when entering a City lot/garage could request a bar voucher. Half the ticket is displayed on the dash giving the owner until 10 that morning to retrieve the vehicle if the other half is stamped by a bar. If the voucher is not stamped, then there would be a significant fine in order to discourage abuse of the service.

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Myrtle has a longer season and draws 4 times the tourists as VB. The Strand is 20 times longer than the Strip and has resorts rather than just hotels. The town has over 100 golf courses. Exactly how is VB supposed to compete? And really why should VB compete? It isn't a resort town, but a city with a resort industry. VB has the best bond ratings and a budget surplus (even in down years, revenues are fairly good). It doesn't need to experiment with the Strip to get more money out of it. Ever since Greekfest 89, VB has gone with safe and it's worked. Why start tweaking the model to squeeze out a couple extra bucks when the risks don't warrant it (casinos and the Block)?

I don't think VB can, or does, compete w/ MB. They draw from completely different geographic markets, for one thing. As you identifed, there are differences in the "landscape". But, if the same real estate that comprises the limited oceanfront, is populated by hotels that are full at $300/night, that property is worth more than if they are full at $200/night. No greater impact on city services, but big impact on RE tax revenue (not to mention meal tax money from higher spending tourists).

Then there is the jobs angle. The city needs to start now on replacing the 12,000 jobs that go away when Oceana closes (and it will). If you increase the almost non-existant tourism related entertainment options (by taking what works at MB and duplicating it here), then you dent that job loss number.

Certainly, VB will never look like MB. But there are ways to increase jobs, increase tax revenues, than can be modeled on MB, among other beach tourism areas, including Ocean City. But it starts with a plan, and it appears that VB doesn't have one, and is stuck with the results.

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Then there is the jobs angle. The city needs to start now on replacing the 12,000 jobs that go away when Oceana closes (and it will). If you increase the almost non-existant tourism related entertainment options (by taking what works at MB and duplicating it here), then you dent that job loss number.

Certainly, VB will never look like MB. But there are ways to increase jobs, increase tax revenues, than can be modeled on MB, among other beach tourism areas, including Ocean City. But it starts with a plan, and it appears that VB doesn't have one, and is stuck with the results.

If you're argument is that VB needs to develop a unified vision for the Oceanfront (from its 5 or 6 studies) then yes I agree with you. However, I do not believe that focusing on tourism is the best way to lessen the impact of losing Oceana (which is still debatable and would not happen for at least another decade unless the Cecil Field proponents win). Tourism is a mostly seasonal industry with half of the 3 million tourists coming in the 3 summer months. Jobs associated with this industry are also low paying. In order to replace Oceana, VB needs to expand its commercial and industrial sectors. In those areas, the City has a vision but needs to push harder at it. Expansion of the Airport Industrial Park has been held up by deed issues during acquisition of Burton Station properties. Corporate Landing has not panned out as expected because the SE Expressway has not been built. That has also affected the development of industrial sites off of Shipps Corner and Dam Neck. Still, the City is pushing forward with development of Pembroke as a high-rise downtown, since Lynnhaven is almost build-out. The Greenwich/Newtown corridor is also doing well. VB should focus on improving the Oceanfront, but it should put more of its effort in expanding the non-tourism related economy in a move to make tourism a complimentary rather than primary industry.

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maybe we should start another thread to discuss our DT area and perhaps discuss how the city should pursue new businesses and also discuss some ideas on how it should be built.

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I remember there was a plan of some sort. Maybe not a comprehensive Oceanfront master plan, so to speak. But there was at something about linking the Oceanfront and the Convention Center. Or the Laskin Road Corridor plan. Something like that. It had renderings and everything. Zoning changes along a stretch. Plans for mid-rise buildings and lots of mixed use properties. I thought it was great, but it came out just before the whole Oceana BRAC stuff came up. I think that pretty much caused the whole idea to be shelved. I dunno.. it was posted on here back them. Those renderings have to be around somewhere.

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I remember there was a plan of some sort. Maybe not a comprehensive Oceanfront master plan, so to speak. But there was at something about linking the Oceanfront and the Convention Center. Or the Laskin Road Corridor plan. Something like that. It had renderings and everything. Zoning changes along a stretch. Plans for mid-rise buildings and lots of mixed use properties. I thought it was great, but it came out just before the whole Oceana BRAC stuff came up. I think that pretty much caused the whole idea to be shelved. I dunno.. it was posted on here back them. Those renderings have to be around somewhere.

Yeah, that was the 19th street corridor plan which has been indefinately postponed due to the Navy. <_<

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