umterp03

Waterside Marketplace Progress

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Article from the pilot this morning about the future of the waterside marketplace

Pilot Link

Any ideas what should be done to this place? It seems like a ghost town there during the day

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Article from the pilot this morning about the future of the waterside marketplace

Pilot Link

Any ideas what should be done to this place? It seems like a ghost town there during the day

I love Waterside and what it has done for Norfolk's waterfront. I think the city should look at increasing its entertainment offerings by renovating the building and bringing in more national chains. I think the city has to understand that Waterside is a night and weekend destination and stop trying to make it something that it is not a weekday destination. But please, please, please do not demolish it and make it a parking lot again.

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Waterside has done alot to revitalize the City. You can't put a price tag on its value for how it has helped to transform Norfolk and the waterfront there. I think Norfolk should try to renovate the inside and change its outdated 80s indoor mall / carnival feel to the bottom floor. One thing is for sure, with MacArthur Center shifting the shopping destination to the north, Waterside wont support small mom and pop shops. Keep Waterside leases to entertainment/dining and gut that gross food court!

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The tone of the comments at the Pilot site is alarmingly negative. While I certainly agree that the present mix of tenants at the Waterside is not working, I think that tearing it down would be a mistake. There is no doubt that a major renovation is needed. What options could work for the space? No one is going to bother going there to find another branch of I Can't Believe It's Yogurt. The meat market mix is clearly undesirable. My first thought was something along the lines of theaters or a performance space (as Ethan suggested), but this might be unnecessary with the theaters at MacArthur. Tearing it down would be foolish as well. Out-of-the-box thinking is needed here.

My experience with this sort of mall is that replacing useless tourist traps with stores that seel things people might actually buy is an idea which usually works. I like the idea of turning at least part of it into a farmers' market or fish market (or both) as well. The location is too good to allow another condo box or office building to take its place. Something public needs to be in this location. More thoughts anyone?

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Indoor put-put, virtual driving range, indoor wavepool, Golds Gym, jogging track, etc. This is just some of the things I thought about. Give people something to do during the winter months besides eating and drinking.

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The tone of the comments at the Pilot site is alarmingly negative.

They almost always are.

I think that tearing it down would be a mistake. There is no doubt that a major renovation is needed. What options could work for the space?

Honestly, with the shift of development North towards Brambleton, I think that any retail/resturants there would be destined to fail. It's just too far away from the main action and is not really centrally located as far as the rest of downtown is concerned. I'd actually advocate tearing it down and expanding Town Pointe park so that they can hold bigger events/festivals. You look at major cities like Miami and Chicago and their waterfront parks are far more expansive than ours. They could even make it a destination for the many boaters and yachts in our area. People have long complained that there is not enough greenspace in Norfolk, this could go a long way towards fixing that. Ideally, Norfolk needs a centralized park about the size of Mount Trashmore, but the city is so urbanized I don't think we'd be able to cobble together the space. This may be the closest we can get in Norfolk that is in a central location.

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Interesting idea. It still seems a waste, though, to tear it down.

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I'm all for expanding Town Point Park, but it does seem like a waste to tear down the marketplace. I'm sure we can find a solution that makes most people happy.

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How about something of a mixed seafood/farmer's market like Pike Place in Seattle? I could see that.. but yeah, green space will always be a challenge downtown, I'd honestly like to see them turn Fort Norfolk where they tore down all the cotton warehouses into a park, it would offer a nice view and kind of tie in Ghent to Freemason and Downtown.

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As successful as the nightclub phase was, tearing this building down will not happen, it's too much tax revenue to lose and would lose standing with national chains. I do however, marginally agree with expanding Town Pointe in place of Waterside.

However since that won't happen, Waterside could benefit from street-level accesible retail instead of the enclosed space. It would be a great contrast to MacArthur in that sense. Eliminate the food court, try and pull some eclectic national chains into the mix, get rid of the mom and pop feel, relocate them to 21st St and Ghent. It's a dank, small building that feels tiny once you're inside it, you walk seemingly 20 feet and you've seen it all. It definitely needs improvement beyond the nightclubs.

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I think the thing that strikes me about Waterside is how dark and dingy it feels (and smells). It was like that before all the lame bars came too. I could see the food court serving all the office workers across the street if it had some national chains in the mix. Starbucks, Taco Bell, etc. Some places that people have heard of.

I don't know though. It is really not a place that I frequent and would never dream of bringing out of town friends there. It's just kind of a military/blue collar hang out spot to me and most of the people I know. If something is built there, I am sure that most people in Norfolk would flip out like they did when were going to build a hotel down there.

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I am sure that most people in Norfolk would flip out like they did when were going to build a hotel down there.

They were going to build a hotel where Waterside is? Or are you referring to the Sheraton?

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They were going to build a hotel where Waterside is? Or are you referring to the Sheraton?

Years ago (I think somewhere around 1999) there was a developer trying to build a hotel (Holiday Inn Express, I think) right next to (or in place of) Waterside, and from what I remember the public hated the idea.

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Years ago (I think somewhere around 1999) there was a developer trying to build a hotel (Holiday Inn Express, I think) right next to (or in place of) Waterside, and from what I remember the public hated the idea.

Thanks Okinawa. I can understand why they hated that idea. We already have one seawall with windows, why in the world would we want two? :lol: I love living at the oceanfront here in Va. Beach, but one thing I can't stand is that absolute wall of concrete and masonry that blocks the entire view of the ocean when driving along Atlantic. Norfolk would be wise to keep as much of at least this portion of their waterfront free from such obstructions (i'm excluding Fort Norfolk and Harbor Park as I think they should be developed).

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I recall those plans quite well. The proposed hotel was going to be a Holiday Inn Express- certainly nothing special in any way. The prospect of losing the park appalled many residents and the plans were rejected. I'd like to see something which could make use of the existing building- or at least part of it- and address the park instead of obliterating it. There is much potential for this site, but a balance of park and public/private space should be maintained.

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Im not sure the Farmer's Market idea would work since it would compete with the one they already do at MacArthur Center. A seafood market would be cool, but who is going to pay to park downtown to go shop at a seafood market? By the way, I miss Q-Masters being there!!!!

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Im not sure the Farmer's Market idea would work since it would compete with the one they already do at MacArthur Center. A seafood market would be cool, but who is going to pay to park downtown to go shop at a seafood market? By the way, I miss Q-Masters being there!!!!

I agree, bring back Q-Masters! Not that I would benefit, but entertainment at a festival marketplace is essential. I actually think live music would be a big draw, it works here in Austin. Invite Mr. Newby to bring his jazz club to Waterside. Invite the Hurrah Players to perform weekly inside. Have a battle of the bands contest every week. Tearing it down would be a waste of money and time. A little imagination is needed here.

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vdogg's right. Waterside is away from all the action. Just look at its location: it is separated from the rest of downtown by a 6-lane thoroughfare designed to get cars on and off 264. There are no stores, offices, hotels, or residences facing it (a Sheraton next door won't cut it) but a line of parking structures, parking lots, and private park/plaza. Even the 30-some slip marina is useless. Waterside may thrive if it was placed next to the new cruise terminal. Just look at how its sister pavilion in Baltimore (Harborplace) are doing, which also benefits by not having a downtown mall to compete against.

At this point, I'd turn it into a park and rebuild the marina into a 60+ slip facility (around $5 million) if it is to remain in public hands. Better yet would be to place the site up for bid requesting designs for a mixed-use 5-10 story building (offices, boutique hotel, a few eclectic stores (Urban Outfitters?) and restaurants, 40 apartments/condos that include a slip at a new 100 slip marina. No need for public money since the garage is already built. Maybe just some money for a renovated public riverwalk.

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funny how so many people are willing to turn their back on this location when at one point, it was the only way people would go to downtown Norfolk. Now my question would be, what is the farmers market like at MacArthur because I am not picturing a full fledged one.

I think it would be a huge mistake to tear this building down, even if it meant expanding the park. I think it would be better to open it up to the park more with a good renovation. Increase the use of the building throughout the day. Make it more of a market during the day time and more of a restaurant and night club thing in the evening. It is a great location to be a harborside entertainment center.

And a further question, seeing that Waterside is a blatant ripoff of the one up in Baltimore (to the point where they hired the same people to do this one), I am curious what they are doing with theirs up in Baltimore and if they are doing something successful with theirs, then I say it should move more in that direction.

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funny how so many people are willing to turn their back on this location when at one point, it was the only way people would go to downtown Norfolk. Now my question would be, what is the farmers market like at MacArthur because I am not picturing a full fledged one.

I'm not turning by back on it, I'm just realizing that it has served it's purpose and that survival in todays downtown Norfolk is by no means assured. We've developed a critical mass downtown and that critical mass is from main street and points south. Even Dominion Tower is set apart from the rest of downtown, It kind of reminds me of the Renaissance Center in how it stands out from downtown but fails to integrate with the urban fabric. Of course i'm not advocating tearing Dominion Tower down, just using that as an example. When you walk downtown how often do you walk by this area? If you're like me and a lot of people never. It's too far away from the things that attract me downtown and navigating that river of traffic is horrendous.

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Although it will never happen, I think it would be a great place for a casino.

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I really like the casino idea,a lot of people love to gamble.

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I never liked the idea of closing the open feel Waterside had before they added the Julian's upstairs.

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Here are my thoughts. Take them for what they're worth.

1. There's nothing wrong with Waterside today. The building is designed for entertainment. Food, bars, sports, and games. You want sushi? They got it. You want Thai? They got it. You want beer? They got it in spades. Beers that most of you have never even heard of. And just enough shopping. The variety has always been significant. Remember when Jillian's had a jazz/cigar club? And its own dance club (still there?). The jazz club was always packed. We even had a comedy club at one time.

But interest started to dwindle. Not because these places changed. Or got worse. Or went away. Or the fact that the Fudgery left. Or any other ridiculous reason. Things started to decline because people no longer showed interest. So many people, especially of the type that post on Pilotonline, refuse to go downtown, refuse to have anything to do with Norfolk, and refuse to stay in town on weekends. Maybe it's because of subsidies. Maybe it's because of the city manager. Maybe it's because they got a praking ticket. Or the last meal they had was cold. Whatever, this attitude is what hurts Waterside, Granby Street, and everything else around here. And nothing you do, nothing you bring in, will change that. Perhaps a casino (although that will never happen), but even that would be defeated by a newspaper, by magazines, and by TV stations that would find some petty thing to put in the headlines just to bring it down. And just so they can feel big and feel superior. Hell, I remember back when the TV stations broadcast live from Harborfest. The excitement that even these "serious" journalists felt on opening day. Those days are gone forever. and not because Harborfest has gone down hill. Last year's Harborfest was better than any I've ever attended. I have to believe DC, Baltimore, even NY would die to have something with so much to see and do.

2. The original concept of Waterside stunk. A bunch of overpriced shops catering to specialty items. Places like that wouldn't last 5 minutes today.

3. I've read comments about what Waterside needs. National chains? The facility is filled with national chains. Examples:

-Blackfinn's: People seem to love it in Charlotte, Richmond, and everywhere else. I guess we're just too good for it here.

-Jillian's: Owned by Dave and Buster's. Popular in DC, but again just not good enough for people in HR.

-Bar Norfolk: People either love or hate it. But there's no denying the quality of the wait staff.

-Have a Nice Day Cafe: See Bar Norfolk.

-Outback, Joe's Crab Shack, Hooters, etc. etc.

You may not love all these places. But if you can't find something to like, I have to believe you're not being honest. And yet, the best places are the independent eateries that offer a wide array of food and a wide array of beers.

4. Some other recommendations. Farmers Market? Get real. If the bars can't bring them in, this can't. Putt-putt golf? Is this a serious comment? Wave pool? Whatever dude.

5. Live music? They have live music. And they've had live music in multiple places over the years. I remember seeing Black Elvis at the club next to Have a Nice Day. As I said, we had a jazz club at Jillians. Not to mention Crockodile Rocks and their duelling pianos. I'm all for live music. Not long ago, people packed these venues. But the question remains: Why did they stop going? I'm convinced the performers left after the people stopped going. Not vice versa.

6. And how is Waterside away from all the action? It seems to me all the action is at Town Point Park. Don't believe me? Go to the upcoming Beerfest or Winefest. These are just 2 of dozens of events over the spring, summer, and fall. 100s of thousands of people. Somehow transferring that excitement back inside to Waterside is the answer. Not gimmicks.

So what's the point? The point is that there's nothing wrong with Waterside in terms of what it offers. Sure, it could always be improved. But it's not lacking in quality or variety. What's wrong are the people. In this case, thc customer IS wrong. They just don't care. So what to do about it? Go visit Waterside. Invite friends. Take the ferry between P-Town and Norfolk and eat at Joes. Take in a game at Harbor Park and hang at Jillians before or after. Tell others how you had a good time while doing it. In short, MAKE AN EFFORT!

Edited by Sky06

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