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St. Paul's Quadrant (Phase 1-Under Construction)


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2 hours ago, vdogg said:

All hope is not lost. From watching the meeting blocks 7a/7b have been set aside as higher density, higher intensity commercial opportunities. They appear to be leaving that open for office and/or mixed use.

 

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And now you have some idiot on the planning commission asking for detached single family home opportunities. This isn’t Virginia Beach… <_<

Yeah, I heard him going on and on. I think that’s the Chairman.

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This update looks to be a consequence of too much community input and too much of the city trying to appease everyone.

If this is really the route St. Paul's is going to take, at least go all the way Ghent with it with faux historic brick colonial homes and apartment buildings. Give me columns and cornices. Give me a fake Old Town Alexandria. Revive the look of 1920-1940 Norfolk. Bring back hits history. Just please don't be the architecture we see in those renderings.

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I’m not sure I understand all the disgruntlement here. What were you expecting?  Is it all about density for most of you…or is it about architecture? That’s not entirely clear from the comments, but I’m sensing it’s more about the density (or the perceived lack thereof).  

And yes, of course they took “community input” into serious consideration. After all, it is their community, not ours. This is not a place most of us are going to visit on a weekly or monthly basis (that is unless you live there or someone you know lives there). For after all is said and done, this is a neighborhood. A real neighborhood for the people. And those residents said they didn’t want the Uber-density or the verticality (the two often go hand-in-hand). What they did want was some elements of classic architecture that would harken back to the history of the place. The design team likely forced some forward-looking buildings in there.

Truly, I don’t see all that much in the way of real, traditional design, at least none that is particularly staid or reproduction-oriented. It’s more transitional in nature. Clearly, the design team were aiming for an eclectic mix of styles and scale that would give the appearance of a neighborhood developing organically on its own …over many decades. They also wanted to make this mixed-income, and so the flats, townhomes and duplexes would likely be more expensive than the apartment-style dwellings.  

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7 minutes ago, baobabs727 said:

I’m not sure I understand all the disgruntlement here. What were you expecting?  Is it all about density for most of you…or is it about architecture? That’s not entirely clear from the comments, but I’m sensing it’s more about the density (or the perceived lack thereof).  

And yes, of course they took “community input” into serious consideration. After all, it is their community, not ours. This is not a place most of us are going to visit on a weekly or monthly basis (that is unless you live there or someone you know lives there). For after all is said and done, this is a neighborhood. A real neighborhood for the people. And those residents said they didn’t want the Uber-density or the verticality (the two often go hand-in-hand). What they did want was some elements of classic architecture that would harken back to the history of the place. The design team likely forced some forward-looking buildings in there.

Truly, I don’t see all that much in the way of real, traditional design, at least none that is particularly staid or reproduction-oriented. It’s more transitional in nature. Clearly, the design team were aiming for an eclectic mix of styles and scale that would give the appearance of a neighborhood developing organically on its own …over many decades. 

I think we look at this plot of land from such diametrically opposed views that it's not worth talking about some of those points you made. All I'll say is I reject the concept of "their community" and "real neighborhood" or having a handful of people's opinions serving as the standard for a plot of land 1/3 the size of all of downtown. This area represents much more than that for the small community that lives there now and the much larger community this is meant to attract in the future.

Per your question of density and architecture, why can't it be both? I've never been one to care much for height, but certainly believe the eradication of surface parking and having at least 4-6 story buildings goes a long way in building an urban fabric that is worth while. Detached townhouses with surface parking? GTF out of here with that kind of rendering for a downtown. It's pathetic.

In terms of architecture, whatever the design team attempted to do in these renderings, they failed. It's a hodgepodge of cheap looking apartments and bland sometimes standalone townhouses. There is nothing historic looking or forward-looking. It's unoriginal, in-cohesive, and underwhelming. There are plenty of buildings in the Freemason district and Ghent to get inspiration from, of what would add to and revive this land. They have fallen terribly short.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, mistermetaj said:

I think we look at this plot of land from such diametrically opposed views that it's not worth talking about some of those points you made. All I'll say is I reject the concept of "their community" and "real neighborhood" or having a handful of people's opinions serving as the standard for a plot of land 1/3 the size of all of downtown. This area represents much more than that for the small community that lives there now and the much larger community this is meant to attract in the future.

Per your question of density and architecture, why can't it be both? I've never been one to care much for height, but certainly believe the eradication of surface parking and having at least 4-6 story buildings goes a long way in building an urban fabric that is worth while. Detached townhouses with surface parking? GTF out of here with that kind of rendering for a downtown. It's pathetic.

In terms of architecture, whatever the design team attempted to do in these renderings, they failed. It's a hodgepodge of cheap looking apartments and bland sometimes standalone townhouses. There is nothing historic looking or forward-looking. It's unoriginal, in-cohesive, and underwhelming. There are plenty of buildings in the Freemason district and Ghent to get inspiration from, of what would add to and revive this land. They have fallen terribly short.

 

 

Wow. As to your first paragraph, I “reject the notion, ” patently and unequivocally,  of anyone expressly preempting or quashing any meaningful discussion on a topic simply because one happens to disagree with another board member. 

Secondly, it would appear that elitism is alive and well in urban planning and community development circles. You see, it’s not about you or me or some academic white paper…or even a sometimes-lofty  back-and-forth on an online development  forum.

Nay, it’s all about the folks.  And the folks have spoken. And the Council has their back.  So adjust your worldview accordingly. 

Additionally, I think perhaps you need to put some things into perspective here. This PC video presentation covered but a portion of TG redevelopment representing a scant percentage of the overall developable acreage in SPQ.  So let’s take a wait-and-see approach before we talk about “GTF” out with this and “pathetic” that, shall we?

Finally, taste in architecture is quite personal. I see it as all perfectly fine. Nothing special, nothing particularly offensive.  But you do realize that the budget here would never allow for phenomenal, groundbreaking design, right? Again, this is a neighborhood for the people, and it is sure as hell a tremendous improvement over what was there before.  Now THAT was TRULY “cheap-looking” and “underwhelming.” 


 

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2 minutes ago, baobabs727 said:

 

Wow. As to your first paragraph, I “reject the notion, ” patently and unequivocally,  of anyone expressly preempting or quashing any meaningful discussion on a topic simply because one happens to disagree with another board member. 

Secondly, it would appear that elitism is alive and well in urban planning and community development circles. You see, it’s not about you or me or some academic white paper…or even a sometimes-lofty  back-and-forth on an online development  forum.

Nay, it’s all about the folks.  And the folks have spoken. And the Council has their back.  So adjust your worldview accordingly. 

Additionally, I think perhaps you need to put some things into perspective here. This PC video presentation covered but a portion of TG redevelopment representing a scant percentage of the overall developable acreage in SPQ.  So let’s take a wait-and-see approach before we talk about “GTF” out with this and “pathetic” that, shall we?

Finally, taste in architecture is quite personal. I see it as all perfectly fine. Nothing special, nothing particularly offensive.  But you do realize that the budget here would never allow for phenomenal, groundbreaking design, right? Again, this is a neighborhood for the people, and it is sure as hell a tremendous improvement over what was there before.  Now THAT was TRULY “cheap-looking” and “underwhelming.” 


 

Exactly why there was no point in the having the conversation and why it wasn't going to be meaningful if we had it.  You've now added "elitism" to the ledger followed up by saying how it's "not about you or me". Clearly the conversation we could have had would have digressed quickly into unnecessary mud slinging, as it seems to already have. I never said it was about you or me, and was happy to reject the notions you provided, while simultaneously realizing from your post there was no benefit taking that part any further. If you want the last word on it in future posts, you are welcome to have it.

I fully concede my views differ from the "folks...and City Council" as these renderings clearly show. That doesn't make any of this a good idea or require I adjust my worldview. Simply stated, i think what they are building right now is a mistake in its pseudo-urban form, function, and design. Limiting input to just the current community (if that is even what they did) when there is a goal of attracting a much broader community to the area is a mistake and limits potential now and in the future.

While this is only a percentage of the land, it's still multiple blocks and, along with the surface parking, remains everything I said about it in my previous post. Clearly there is enough intent behind this design to show us the direction they have chosen, and I find it pathetic. We've waited YEARS for this redevelopment and from what I see in these renderings, it's very disappointing.

Taste in architecture is personal no doubt. What you don't find offensive, I do. I expressed it just as you did. The budget didn't need to be huge to create a cohesive, brick centric, faux historical look, with small details design that invokes the history of Norfolk and create a sense of place. Even St. Paul's Apartments, which I'm sure were as low a budget at least tried to do that. Being just a step above 60s government housing is hardly a step above anything architecturally.

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It looks better than what I was expecting from a quick glance. The size of the buildings are about what I was expecting, though I do hope they end up building taller buildings closer to St Paul which really should be reserved completely for tall buildings. The small parks and plazas with the mix of street level commercial is also a great quality to building a walkable neighborhood. I also like the more contemporary architecture look of the buildings because it would be nice for Norfolk to have a district that feels new and modern rather than trying to pretend to be historic. There is enough of that type of architecture in Hampton Roads. 

As for the density, that is an interesting question and leads me to believe that many of those buildings are single family townhouses rather than multi unit buildings and apartment/condo buildings. There should definitely be a better mix of the two to help promote density and making it easier to incorporated mixed income housing.

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So, first and foremost, let’s make sure that we’re addressing each other with respect when discussing this matter. That goes for all sides. Secondly, i can see the merits of each point of this and thus take a middle ground approach. The community input was necessary, and it is “their” neighborhood, but that neighborhood is still part of Norfolk and the land it sits on is too vast and valuable to allow moderate density development to permeate the entirety of that district. Once St. Paul’s is fully built out, outside of Military Circle, there will be no more significant developable land in Norfolk. That’s it, finis, so we have to get this right on the first try.  It is correct that phase 2 encompasses a small portion of the developable land. It is also true that it is stated plainly in the documents online that the density and intensity of use will actually DECREASE as you get east of Church street. This is a valid cause for concern. With Phase 1 under construction, and Phase 2 starting next year, we are simply running out of opportunities for anything big and bold that we could truly consider an extension of downtown. That said, the architecture is fine, it’s far better than what is there now. Reconnecting Freemason is a BIG deal, and should really pay dividends further down the road. In summary, this development is OK, which is what we’ve all come to expect from Norfolk, developments that are just OK. That is something that is disheartening to many of us…

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645 Church Street is going before design review on September 2nd. Inexplicably, there were no renderings included in the planning document, however this is being listed as multi-family new construction. Considering that the property was just recently taken off the market this seems to be an indication that somebody has bought it and intends to demolish and build new instead of reusing the building. Working to find out and developer is now, will be able to tell a lot from that.

Many years ago this property was proposed for what would have been the location of the hoffler tower, a 25 story building. Obviously, that never came to fruition.

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3 hours ago, vdogg said:

In summary, this development is OK, which is what we’ve all come to expect from Norfolk, developments that are just OK. That is something that is disheartening to many of us…

I think that's my biggest issue. It's an improvement from the projects (I say that begrudgingly, having friends who lived there), but it could still be so much more. I look forward to the finished product and hope this pleasantly surprises everyone and shuts up the critics. But I'd also be lying if I said I didn't expect a true extension of downtown versus "downtown adjacent". That might be because we've seen so many similar-sized metros like Charlotte and Nashville boom in both population and density, while we can barely add a couple thousand. I just want us to be recognized as something other than a military town, and it seems we only make baby steps every 20 years.

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1 hour ago, vdogg said:

645 Church Street is going before design review on September 2nd. Inexplicably, there were no renderings included in the planning document, however this is being listed as multi-family new construction. Considering that the property was just recently taken off the market this seems to be an indication that somebody has bought it and intends to demolish and build new instead of reusing the building. Working to find out and developer is now, will be able to tell a lot from that.

Many years ago this property was proposed for what would have been the location of the hoffler tower, a 25 story building. Obviously, that never came to fruition.

Economic development bought it in 2019 and is definitely demoing it. No idea of the specific plans but it’s been mentioned from time to time in the meeting minutes. 

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At this point, I personally am just thankful that we are starting to see demolition and some new construction and infrastructure improvements in SPQ. 
 

over the years, I’ve come to realize that we all have a different perception of what norfolk is and different ideas and aspirations for what the future of Norfolk and the 757 should look and feel like.  If some of us, pro-urban, pro-development, pro-transit, die-hard Norfolk supporters had our way, SPQ would be transformed into a true extension of downtown with mostly 6-10 story buildings and a few 12-15 floor towers to capitalize on better views and accommodate a range of lifestyles. With that said, at some point I have to come back to the reality of the situation, and reevaluate and reassess my own expectations. I’ve seen many of us on this forum get our hopes up countless times before the inevitable letdown and disappointment occurs. Progress in this area is very, very, slow, and many people my generation and younger have already left for faster growing, more popular towns like Nashville or Raleigh. Every time a new development opens in the 757, it seems like a no-brainer and hard to imagine the area without it. For example, I can’t imagine the oceanfront without the new mariott and beach club and Orion’s roof, and I don’t understand why we don’t have more rooftop venues. similarly, i can’t imagine Norfolk without the main/ grain or odu without a football stadium. However, the newness eventually wears off, the support declines, and the excitement dies down as we look for the next new development which will likely take decades of back and forth and being watered down to the point where the final product isn’t even worth the wait, and the cycle continues. 
 

As for the DT/SPQ conversation, until we have a dynamic job market and economy with population growth/ higher incomes, we can’t expect more than what is planned and what we currently see being built. We can’t expect to entirely transform the culture and see an unprecedented increase in demand to live in SPQ just because we tear down public housing and recreate the street grid. There is so much more to it that must be addressed which will take much longer than a lifetime to see fulfilled. For now, we must be thankful for the current state of development, and do what we can to be active and engaged in the process and the greater conversation of how to stimulate the local and regional economy and fix the perception and identify issues that plague this area, and honestly the entire state of Virginia. 
 

finally, I would not worry about Norfolk running out of developable land.. I think the city could accommodate at least 100K more people within the city limits if we one day saw that monumental shift it would take to ramp up activity and development.

I am sure of one thing, however. Unless Norfolk/VB/757 take bold steps and commit to a unified regional plan and vision, we don’t stand a chance. Even I, the most avid Norfolk supporter, at some point will be so exhausted from being let down by the slow pace of progress and the divergent viewpoints and lack of identity and dependence on the military and just overall underwhelming experience that we will just move on with our lives somewhere else. 
 

norfolk could be a vibrant, active, dense, dynamic, place to live and visit. There is nowhere in the 757 that even remotely has the vibe of Norfolk and the fact that the area can see 50K+ new residents in VB/ Chesapeake area while Norfolk loses population just speaks to the disconnect and identity crises that the city faces. If the tide turns, and it somehow becomes cool to live downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods and transit becomes popular, and people start to relocate as NOVA and other high cost of living areas become prohibitively expensive. However, we unfortunately will be in competition with Richmond for those seeking an urban lifestyle, and Norfolk will likely continue as the old navy port city with a tacky resort strip next door in the eyes of others, as us with rose colored shades will continue to see Norfolk as the crown jewel of Virginia with unlimited potential and will continue to fail to understand how Norfolk, with its prime east coast location and access can remain stagnant and mediocre, while other cities that quite frankly are unimpressive but-for the hype and the big city amenities that follow. If Norfolk raises to its greatest potential, it would blow all the new and up and coming cities out of the water (casino/harbor park redeveloped with high rises, mixed use, etc., MacArthur center redeveloped and integrated into street grid, ft. Norfolk built out with hotels,medical office and residential,  SPQ built out into safe, mixed-income neighborhood, NEON built out with apartments and maybe a new museum to complement what exists, arena and mixed use In military circle, area around ODU built out with maybe a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s? Etc. But for now, all of that is a pipe dream and people will continue to move to Chesapeake at a slightly above average rate  and avoid Norfolk like the plague except for the occasional trip to the Zoo or maybe to see the fireworks on July 4... and I’ll continue to daydream about a dense, walkable, safe, clean Norfolk with multiple light rail lines, urban infill/TOD, an actual commute into business districts and not a commute to the naval base/shipyard, population over 300K, etc. the sad part is, the bold steps that Norfolk took over the past couple decades (light rail, The main, slover library, waterside, etc.) must be reinforced by continued efforts and investments or else it will all have been for nothing IMO. If light rail is not expanded literally ASAP, I envision literally ripping the tracks out of the ground by 2030. At this point, the train is literally a novelty and it’s honestly embarrassing to see the train pass by at night with the lights on and not a sole passenger in the light rail vehicle. The only time I’ve ever even seen a full rail car is immediately after a huge tides game w/ fireworks. There was so much hope and excitement when the tide opened, and here we are, hoping we can extend light rail a couple miles to military circle? and at best, we can expect BRT to the naval base? That won’t work in a million years and it’s an absolute shame that we can invest hundreds of millions of dollars for a train to nowhere and then expect people willl wait to transfer to a glorified bus?  The rejection of light rail to the oceanfront via town center might have been the biggest failure and letdown this region will ever see.. as the population there is actually growing and  the train would have bridged the perception gap between VB and Norfolk. If even 5%-10% of the population growth and relocations were centered around the light rail and activity was more clustered in any meaningful way, we would start to see the mixed use, denser urban developments we all dream for here. Without rail, vb and chesapeake will continue to sprawl and the bulk of investment and “urban” development will be centered in suburban environments like summit pointe rather than redevelopment and reinvestment in traditional urban neighborhoods in Norfolk or Portsmouth with endless potential for walkability in a more stimulating and active and desirable neighborhood.. 

Sorry for the rant.

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On 8/30/2021 at 10:37 AM, vdogg said:

645 Church Street is going before design review on September 2nd. Inexplicably, there were no renderings included in the planning document, however this is being listed as multi-family new construction. Considering that the property was just recently taken off the market this seems to be an indication that somebody has bought it and intends to demolish and build new instead of reusing the building. Working to find out and developer is now, will be able to tell a lot from that.

Many years ago this property was proposed for what would have been the location of the hoffler tower, a 25 story building. Obviously, that never came to fruition.

4A390BF2-50A6-48BD-BD9A-C5637AE04048.thumb.jpeg.8f842deea4732eb73534a0c3a7908120.jpeg

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6 hours ago, Asdfjkl; said:

4A390BF2-50A6-48BD-BD9A-C5637AE04048.thumb.jpeg.8f842deea4732eb73534a0c3a7908120.jpeg

Well that settles it. That is a decent sized building and could have been renovated into a lot of apartments. Gives me hope that what's replacing it has some good size to it. That should be a gateway and focal point for the St Paul's quadrant.

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8 hours ago, Norva757 said:

I remember when they were suppose to build that 38 story apts there.....was that the hoffler tower?

Yeah. It was something in the 25-30 story range if I recall. I refuse to let my mind wander there though. Trying to deliberately imagine something mediocre. :lol:

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On 9/4/2021 at 1:04 PM, Norf Native said:

This was an early rendering. 

Don’t know why I can’t get the image to show…

65BD07B0-933C-43C2-BD8E-BB4EB93A6A64.webp 42.52 kB · 23 downloads

Oh man, I remember this proposal. It probably would have looked out of place, but it would have given some serious skyline height to where it was gonna go.

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On 9/7/2021 at 12:41 AM, urbanlife said:

Oh man, I remember this proposal. It probably would have looked out of place, but it would have given some serious skyline height to where it was gonna go.

I'd love to see this brought back and put on the proposed stretch of high rises that would be closer to where Popeye's sits. A row of buildings like this would fill in the gaps in the skyline as seen from 264. That gap between City Hall Ave. and about Charlotte St. has bugged me for years.

Screen Shot 2021-09-13 at 11.32.19 AM.png

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