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Without question I see the 1st 30 story building in Norfolk! I see also more jobs to attract newcomers to our scenic beautiful metro(Norfolk's)! I agree The Tide(light Rail) will be a HUGE PLUS for the area. No telling what that will do to the appeal of the city and I see other cities adding The Tide making a over ground rail system to get folks fromVa Beach to Chesapeake and to Portsmouth and elsewhere! Hoping for the Peninsula to get The Tide because that area is a growth site with much land to be used and awesome people! Downtown just by itself will be the center of a boom soon to come. This area has things others don't. 1 is much water and places to dock boats and places to fish and golf within a 20 minute drive in ALL DIRECTIONS. Downtown just needs a signature business not named Norfolk Southern.

We need another minimum 2 Fortune 500 companies! I see a bright future and with the right future mayor and councilman, I see even more than I named. I see a downtown VaRider you will tell your kids how much its grown from 2011 they won't believe until you show them pictures! HAHAHAHAAHA! I am despite my past comments optimistic about the prospects of Downtown and Norfolks metro as a whole. The potential for our area is 3,000,000 residents and 2 pro teams and 6-8 Fortune 1000 companies! LGNM

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I was downtown this evening for a bit, haven't been home in over a year (been in Miami), and I have to say that i was blown away by the progress and the development and the vibrancy and the evening fo

The increases in the base rent for Class A & B are encouraging:  •The downtown average asking rate rose to $20.63 per sq. ft., up $0.20 quarter over quarter, as Class B assets climbed 12.0% f

Whatever the next building ends up being, I'm hoping someone thinks big and goes for at least 35 stories. It's time to start going for height, if you want to keep people moving here.

In the next 10 years, I see the SPQ taking off...I just hate that it's at the expense of the projects near Ruffner Middle (Tidewater Park). Whatever Norfolk goes with, it would be nice to see more moderately-priced housing, not the overpriced stuff near Freemason, and not the Rotunda. Condos going for the mid-100s and apartments topping out at about $1000 should suffice, something that would truly get people living near downtown again.

Would like to see some 30 story office towers in downtown, but I don't know where one could go, other than the Westin lot. Renovate the buildings on the Greyhound side of Brambleton.

And of course, a 20,000 seat arena to lure a big league team. When I see how Oklahoma City has embraced the Thunder, esp. during the playoffs, I can't help but think how that could've been Norfolk, had we landed an arena deal in the early-2000s. I know the economy sucks and folks are still upset about the light rail cost overruns, but sooner or later, someone's going to have to take that chance and go for it. Easier said than done of course.

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I want to state as a disclaimer that I love high-rise architecture, it's among my greatest passions, and whenever I drive around Hampton Roads I'm constantly picturing beautiful vistas with high-rises, especially in Downtown Norfolk. There is tremendous, often unseen potential in the few remaining open lots, and in some areas that are ripe for redevelopment, and the feel of the density Downtown is really something both exciting yet cozy.

That said, I feel as though I must play Devil's Advocate. When I think about what makes a city great, in the context of quality of life and socio-cultural identity, I don't think Fortune 500 companies -- or, daresay, even economic boom times -- are prerequisites. Consider the case of Helsinki, Finland (of all places). The city has been a mainstay of Monocle magazine's "Liveable Cities Index"/ranking for years and, in 2011, finally reached the #1 spot. It has a great arts and live music scene, amazing restaurants and clubs, and a 24-hour energy that is enviable. The skyline is dotted with beautiful landmarks, the waterfront is in the midst of a massive redevelopment campaign, and, with a metro population of less than 1.4 million, it's smaller than Hampton Roads. Moreover, Helsinki does not have a single Fortune 500 company headquartered there. (Admittedly, Nokia is headquarted just outside the city in the suburb of Espoo. No joke, I totally giggle at that name every time.) While on the Monocle kick, there's a fascinating article in the current edition about when relatively poor cities have quite outstanding quality of life characteristics. An example is pre-boom Berlin (think, mid 1990s to roughly 2005), whose mayor famously said the city was "poor but sexy." Obviously Berlin and Norfolk are in two entirely different leagues, but the broader point is that cities have opportunities to build in a greater quality of life without needing an economic boom or a massive Fortune 500 relocation.

I think Norfolk's goal looking forward should be two-fold. Getting a signature high-rise into the skyline, something that makes Norfolk and the region a little more identifiable to outsiders, would be a great start, but with the global economy still reeling that could be several years off. As has been often-discussed on UP, building filler buildings to increase street-level density -- various smaller projects, rather than one or two huge projects -- is probably a better-bet not only economically/feasibly, but in terms of creating a really dynamic atmosphere at the street level. Several of the projects along Granby (for instance, the new TCC student center project) accomplish this and keep the scale on the sidewalks approachable, rather than monolithic. Low and mid-rise buildings can accomplish what signature skyscrapers do as well; an iconic structure, like the new (2004) Copenhagen Opera House, is a good example (and ties in the notions of creating public-use spaces with dynamic functions).

Just a few thoughts to move discussion along -- and I'm definitely not saying I wouldn't love to see a new, 500+ footer skyscraper go up somewhere in Downtown Norfolk :P

Edited by PeninsulaKiddo
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I want to state as a disclaimer that I love high-rise architecture, it's among my greatest passions, and whenever I drive around Hampton Roads I'm constantly picturing beautiful vistas with high-rises, especially in Downtown Norfolk. There is tremendous, often unseen potential in the few remaining open lots, and in some areas that are ripe for redevelopment, and the feel of the density Downtown is really something both exciting yet cozy.

That said, I feel as though I must play Devil's Advocate. When I think about what makes a city great, in the context of quality of life and socio-cultural identity, I don't think Fortune 500 companies -- or, daresay, even economic boom times -- are prerequisites. Consider the case of Helsinki, Finland (of all places). The city has been a mainstay of Monocle magazine's "Liveable Cities Index"/ranking for years and, in 2011, finally reached the #1 spot. It has a great arts and live music scene, amazing restaurants and clubs, and a 24-hour energy that is enviable. The skyline is dotted with beautiful landmarks, the waterfront is in the midst of a massive redevelopment campaign, and, with a metro population of less than 1.4 million, it's smaller than Hampton Roads. Moreover, Helsinki does not have a single Fortune 500 company headquartered there. (Admittedly, Nokia is headquarted just outside the city in the suburb of Espoo. No joke, I totally giggle at that name every time.) While on the Monocle kick, there's a fascinating article in the current edition about when relatively poor cities have quite outstanding quality of life characteristics. An example is pre-boom Berlin (think, mid 1990s to roughly 2005), whose mayor famously said the city was "poor but sexy." Obviously Berlin and Norfolk are in two entirely different leagues, but the broader point is that cities have opportunities to build in a greater quality of life without needing an economic boom or a massive Fortune 500 relocation.

I think Norfolk's goal looking forward should be two-fold. Getting a signature high-rise into the skyline, something that makes Norfolk and the region a little more identifiable to outsiders, would be a great start, but with the global economy still reeling that could be several years off. As has been often-discussed on UP, building filler buildings to increase street-level density -- various smaller projects, rather than one or two huge projects -- is probably a better-bet not only economically/feasibly, but in terms of creating a really dynamic atmosphere at the street level. Several of the projects along Granby (for instance, the new TCC student center project) accomplish this and keep the scale on the sidewalks approachable, rather than monolithic. Low and mid-rise buildings can accomplish what signature skyscrapers do as well; an iconic structure, like the new (2004) Copenhagen Opera House, is a good example (and ties in the notions of creating public-use spaces with dynamic functions).

Just a few thoughts to move discussion along -- and I'm definitely not saying I wouldn't love to see a new, 500+ footer skyscraper go up somewhere in Downtown Norfolk :P

I would love to see the area just north of Brambleton become an arts district for the city. Things like that are what draw people to a city, including better jobs. But I agree, Norfolk doesnt need a 500 company or a pro team to be seen as a great city, it just has to act like one, and that includes the people that live there and choose to move there. The culture of a city is made up of its people, not its companies.

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After playing around on Google Maps for an hour or so.. I really want to know why Norfolk's tallest building is 26 floors, why Norfolk has no form of a street grid system downtown, and why Norfolk has no major chain fast food places on the street level minus Subway, Tropical Smoothie, and Jimmy John's.. where are the McDonalds, Wendys, Chick Fil A's.. where are the CVS or Walgreens, etc.

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After playing around on Google Maps for an hour or so.. I really want to know why Norfolk's tallest building is 26 floors, why Norfolk has no form of a street grid system downtown, and why Norfolk has no major chain fast food places on the street level minus Subway, Tropical Smoothie, and Jimmy John's.. where are the McDonalds, Wendys, Chick Fil A's.. where are the CVS or Walgreens, etc.

Why isn't there anything taller than 26 floors? My guess would have to do with the mud like soil and the cost to anchor a building costs much more because of it, there could be possible laws that require extra re-enforcement after a certain height, or it could just be there has never been enough demand to warrant anything taller than that.

There is no form of street grid in downtown because downtown is actually that old. There was a point in time where cities in this country were not built on street grids, they were built traveled routes (actually there is a name for this, but I don't remember it.) The current street pattern is actually the butchered version compared to what it originally was, which had a much better urban city feeling. If the city wouldn't of modernized so much of its streets, it probably would still have the feeling that many of the streets in Boston have.

As for chain fast food places, that question is an easy one. Subway, Tropical Smoothie, and Jimmy Johns are walk in fast food places. McDonalds, Wendys, and so on are drive thru fast food. The only time you see those places in urban areas without a drive thru attached to them is when there is enough foot traffic to turn a profit. Here in Portland, the only fast food chains we have sit along 5th and 6th with is also our transit mall and has a high amount of foot traffic, everything else sits up Burnside where they can have their drive thrus.

As for their are no drug stores, that is a tricky one, it is the same as the drive thru issue, but a little bit different. drug stores prefer having a parking lot, almost all of them in Chicago have parking lots, even in the most urban neighborhoods (kind of annoying if you ask me, but that is how Chicago got them to go up.) In Norfolk's case, I am guessing there isn't enough foot traffic or residents living downtown to create a demand for drug store beyond something run locally or a small convenient store.

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Why isn't there anything taller than 26 floors? My guess would have to do with the mud like soil and the cost to anchor a building costs much more because of it, there could be possible laws that require extra re-enforcement after a certain height, or it could just be there has never been enough demand to warrant anything taller than that.

The reason there are not more tall buildings in Norfolk is strictly economic, not engineering. There has been no demand for anything higher. We can overcome the soil conditions by driving piles. Most tall buildings are on pile foundation or caissons, so that is nothing unique to Norfolk. The only law requiring extra reinforcement is the building code, but that too is the same for virtually every city.

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After playing around on Google Maps for an hour or so.. I really want to know why Norfolk's tallest building is 26 floors, why Norfolk has no form of a street grid system downtown, and why Norfolk has no major chain fast food places on the street level minus Subway, Tropical Smoothie, and Jimmy John's.. where are the McDonalds, Wendys, Chick Fil A's.. where are the CVS or Walgreens, etc.

Downtown is just a small district of Norfolk. Combine Downtown Norfolk, Old Towne Portsmouth, Ghent and what lies between if you want to compare our urban center with that of a metro with a singular dominant city.

McD's - St Pauls right across from MacArthur along with a Popeyes...

Wendy's - Monticello by Doumars (+ taco bell, ihop, kfc, etc)

Rite Aid (two within 3 blocks of each other actually...), Walgreens in Ghent.

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The reason there are not more tall buildings in Norfolk is strictly economic, not engineering. There has been no demand for anything higher. We can overcome the soil conditions by driving piles. Most tall buildings are on pile foundation or caissons, so that is nothing unique to Norfolk. The only law requiring extra reinforcement is the building code, but that too is the same for virtually every city.

Well technically that isn't completely true, and yet still true. Sure it is economic, but engineering is economic, more piles isn't cheap, therefore if weak soil causes the price to rise drastically, then engineering does effect the economics. Also reinforcement laws are not actually the same in every city. Yes, there is a basis that is identical in this country, but Norfolk doesn't have to worry about earthquakes, but Portland doesn't have to worry about hurricanes. Here in Portland there is a magic number where the building requires extra reinforcement when it is crossed which makes the cost of a building jump, which is why a large number of our buildings stop just under that magic number.

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Well technically that isn't completely true, and yet still true. Sure it is economic, but engineering is economic, more piles isn't cheap, therefore if weak soil causes the price to rise drastically, then engineering does effect the economics. Also reinforcement laws are not actually the same in every city. Yes, there is a basis that is identical in this country, but Norfolk doesn't have to worry about earthquakes, but Portland doesn't have to worry about hurricanes. Here in Portland there is a magic number where the building requires extra reinforcement when it is crossed which makes the cost of a building jump, which is why a large number of our buildings stop just under that magic number.

I thought a big part of Portland's buildings' height also has to do with the severe negative reaction to the (now named) Wells Fargo Center and the other major factor we don't have here: the specter of a massive subduction quake. I want to say that there is a magic number that no building can be taller than which is why the US Bank Building (Big Pink) is the only other really tall building downtown.

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I thought a big part of Portland's buildings' height also has to do with the severe negative reaction to the (now named) Wells Fargo Center and the other major factor we don't have here: the specter of a massive subduction quake. I want to say that there is a magic number that no building can be taller than which is why the US Bank Building (Big Pink) is the only other really tall building downtown.

Part of it is that too, there is FAR(floor to area ratio) that prevents building canyons that prevent sunlight from getting to the street...which living in a constant cloudy city, that is an important factor. The re-enforcement level is either 270ft or 325ft. I remember hearing about it with the 12West building because they couldn't afford to build the tower if it crossed that line because of the added cost it would tack onto the building. Also there is a view restriction which is why you probably will never see a building over 500ft in Portland...and honestly I am fine with that cause no one ever visits Portland because we have an amazing skyline, people come here for the urban feel of the city, from the culture to the food to the beer to the activity of the city. The entire Pearl District was built in a period of 15 years and is now a dense urban neighborhood in downtown, the tallest building in the Pearl District is only 225ft, but when you have an area that is roughly a square mile of urban blocks with storefronts lining each building, then there is something to talk about.

I would love to see the SPQ turn into an urban district like this, and I would love to see the area between the Art Museum and Brambleton turn into an urban art district lining the streets with galleries, local product made stores, and restaurants and cafes. Things like that is what creates an urban buzz for a city.

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Great article from AltDaily..

While capturing young creatives will be critical to strengthening downtown’s vitality, keeping them will be key to its long-term sustainability. As younger populations age, it will be critical for downtown to offer amenities that appeal to families, including childcare, parks and active recreation areas. Norfolk needs an initiative to expand housing options to broaden the array of household types and income levels downtown. For example, Norfolk’s goal should be to add 10,000 new housing units to Downtown by 2025. Mandate a small percentage of units in a development be three bedrooms or larger to accommodate families, etc.

A theme that keeps popping into my head when I think about the future of our city is“Vitality and Livability,” because a successful urban environment is about the experience. I’m excited about our future here. We should enthusiastically and unapologetically advocate a progressive urban agenda for Norfolk. While it might be too late for Whole Foods, a major paradigm shift in how downtown Norfolk views itself should just be beginning

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Norfolk should also focus on attracting younger people to the neighborhoods surrounding downtown as well because having a healthy inner city neighborhood ring is just as important as having a healthy downtown.

How do you do that exactly?  It doesn't appear that Norfolk and it's businesses are centralizing in and around dt. They are building somewhat of an suburban like feel.

I was in dc this weekend with my dad's house who is from Norfolk as well, he said that "old" ghent was just like dc with streets and streets of brownstones a d row houses. He said they came through and demoed everything. From 21st street and south. He said he remembers what it looks like when he was a kid and can't even recognize Norfolk when he comes home. It's amazing how he city gave up on it's urban stance a d figured a bulldozer would do the trick. What is also intresting is, if they do not wish to be urban or move to more of an urban setup, how do they expect to compete with a city like va.beach who in their citizens eyes, is "Mecca"?

I still believe real estate companies are the issue. It is just too expensive to take a shot in dt and they would rather have an empty storefront than lower their prices. Maybe a business person can explain that to me. But they have central dt by the balls. I bet wells Fargo gave bww a sweet deal or whoever is managing it.

There are also a few empty lots that could use some Attention as well, there is no movement on those Plots of land.

Super market gone, movie inside the mall, waterside is empty, no bowling alley, etc. In other words there is no real way to bring people into dt. I think all the people you see are loyalist like me.

Edited by brikkman
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Norfolk should also focus on attracting younger people to the neighborhoods surrounding downtown as well because having a healthy inner city neighborhood ring is just as important as having a healthy downtown.

How? What is the recipe for this?

How do you lower rents, bring in young people, but not have the hood kids show up and wreck it?

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Not sure there is an actual receipt for this...also, not sure how to quote anyone with this recent change to the site...kind of odd and not sure if I like it yet.

Hamlet, you definitely hit on a well known point about a major mistake the city did in the '50, which basically put the city back to square one, as well as created new problems for the city, while VaBeach has been able to establish itself as the major city within the metro without the need of a traditional city setup.  Also many factors why I no longer live there, it made no sense for me to stay in a city and metro that I did not feel like I fit in with, and I didn't see it ever becoming something I wanted it to become.

The important things to do are to start with tax breaks to make it easier for people to start up companies and businesses that help at the street level.  There are a number of neighborhoods in Portland that have seen a massive transformation in the past 10 years.  Making the city more bike friendly is another important factor that would help separate Norfolk from the rest of the region.

But the reality is there is no simple fix, but there are things that can be done to help grassroots and micro changes to happen, ways of people taking in neighborhood pride.  Using urban renewal districts to help people renovate homes and empty buildings to turn them into businesses.  Urban renewal funds are a great way for a neighborhood to keep their city tax money within their neighborhood and see direct changes happening because of it.  From those changes it can easily make people more proud of their neighborhood, thus making it more attractive to live there.

Bike lanes and shared bike roads can also go a long way, allowing people to experience a city at a different level.

Increasing urban living units downtown, as well as using government money to help reduce the cost of a living unit to provide more affordable housing, as well as making it easier to renovate older buildings into housing.

For the love of god, create an Arts District, a Warehouse District, or any other kind of Hotspot District, this is something just about every damn city in this country has done to help renovate their downtowns.  People like doing things that make them feel cultured and Norfolk should focus on being the cultural capitol of the region, it already has a huge art museum and a number of theaters, it wouldn't be hard for the city to call the area between Brambleton and the Museum an Arts District and renovate the area to be full of art galleries, artist lofts, high end condos/apartments, restaurants, and shops.  That area would be a perfect place for something like that to happen, then all the city would have to do is look into investing in inner city streetcar system that would connect downtown to the inner city districts, as well as looking at expanding light rail throughout Norfolk with the use of more than one line.  Norfolk could easily profit from having 3 light rail lines within the city as well as a streetcar loop through downtown.

Also, none of this is an overnight fix, but all of this is possible if the city has people in charge that has this kind of vision for the future of the city, rather than spending all its time wondering how it can keep up with VaBeach, which will never happen because VaBeach is a suburb city of itself and the people that live in VaBeach want to live there because they want to live in the suburbs, which is where young people come into play, it is much easier to attract young people to the city by boosting the college systems within the city and making it easier for them to work and live within the city as well as providing them something that they cannot get with any other city in VaBeach.  It is also important to push the affordable cost of living in Nofolk, in the urban city sense.

Another important factor is to not forget about the "hood kids" as I am guessing you mean more the "black kids."  I am not bringing up race to make this a racial issue, but Norfolk has a long history with the black community and there is nothing wrong with trying to make it easier for blacks to start businesses and take pride in their neighborhoods and communities.  Norfolk should be as much their pride as it would be to the young people the city could be attracting.  I would wonder how many of those "hood kids" are actually pretty good artists, musician, or designers.  It is things like that which is important for a city to exploit and make into a cultural focus of the city to help promote positive growth.

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