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urbanlife

Possibility Norfolk

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I initially was going to just post this in the Progress thread, but after spending the last hour being a nerd drawing fictional LRT lines in Google Earth, I felt that this needed its own thread. Basically this thread will be about talking about possibilities that could happen in Norfolk, nothing in this thread will really be what is actually happening, just an area to express ideas of what should be happening within the city and conversation based on ideas that are presented.

I drew up a LRT system that focuses on Norfolk, Portsmouth, and possibly Chesapeake. I decided to omit VaBeach and the Peninsula because VaBeach will join light rail when it feels like it and will more than likely just build a line from the current line to the waterfront and call it good. I do not see VaBeach doing much in the way of expansion of light rail, but then again, I could be surprised by that city seeing they are actually building their own downtown (something I seriously never thought would ever happen growing up there.) The Peninsula was also omitted because that is a bigger topic on its own due to needed a Bay crossing, and would be a massive infrastructure in its own right.

Light Rail Lines:

Blue: current line, extended to NOB via Hampton Blvd.

Red: Oceanview to Churchland via downtown, midtown tunnel, and Western Fwy.

Green: Chesapeake to Downtown via Bainbridge (405 route would work too)

Light Green: Portsmouth to Downtown

Streetcar:

Yellow: Downtown Loop

The two green lines are either/or, or both. It would be a way to reconnect South Norfolk to downtown, as well as run a possible extension down to Chesapeake. There would be a possibility to run a line from downtown to Portsmouth downtown as well, having that line extend down Turnpike and down Airline possibly, or an alternative route in a similar path.

The Streetcar loop would be a way to connect each of the downtown districts making it easy to hop on and off anywhere downtown.

Downtown Districts:

Yellow: Financial, Waterfront, Government

Red: West Freemason District

Green: Granby District

Orange: MacArthur District/Stadium District

Dark Blue: St Paul Quadrant

Blue: Norfolk Arts District (or whatever it could be called)

Dark Green: Young/Calvert Quadrant

Those seven districts would be what made up downtown as a whole. This is how I have always seen the city and downtown, and each of these areas are important for the growth of the city. Obviously the eastern city of downtown is almost all government housing, which was poorly designed in an almost bunker fashion which has managed to destroy any possibility of future growth in that portion of downtown. The two districts would require a leveling of the area and a street pattern put in place that works with an urban downtown, rather than against. Low income housing should be apart of the future development, but it should not be the only thing built there, as it would be important for Norfolk to decentralize its government housing, and begin to create programs that have temporary housing for those trying to get back onto their feet, as well as permanent housing that is affordable to elderly and handicap.

There should be an "arts district" of some sort in the city. The area that I picked out for it, I have always felt would be the best area to promote something like that to happen, using current building stoke for artist working space and gallery space, there is also plenty of vacant land there to allow for future development. With a focus on the arts, current vacant retail spaces downtown could be used as temporary galleries to showcase local and regional artists, as well as show off available space within the city, using a urban renewal district fund to pay the building owners a reduced price on their rents. With this in place, it would be important for the city to create an "opening day." A "first" or "last" or whatever day that happens each month that allows a change of artwork on display each month. In Portland, we have "First Thursday," as well as a funky thing in a neighborhood within the city that does "Last Thursday." In Spokane, Wa, they have a "First Friday" where local artists have their gallery openings. With this, restaurants can do specials and empty downtown spaces can easily turn into special meet and greet parties that could showcase local cooks or possible restaurant ideas, as well as possibly promote local brewers or whatever.

This is just a number of the ideas that I have had in my head for a while now that I figured I would put online for you guys to have a better visual what I am talking about. All of this is definitely possible, obviously the rail projects to get costly, but Portland has building up its rail over the past 40 years and it is still growing, so none of the rail am I saying should or would happen overnight, but I think it would put Norfolk on a right path for renovating its neighborhoods as well as increasing the city's density and desirability.

The labeling of the districts and renovation of the neighborhoods are much easier to do and cost much less to make effective, but require much more local residents help to be successful or even get its motivation, which is the hard part when not enough people in town are pushing for these kinds of changes to happen in their own city.

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Cool scenario urbanlife! I've always been concerned that any rail line to NOB is going to have some significant security challenges to it. Most likely, the line will end at the gate and then people will need a way to get from the gate to their destination on post. Also, would it be practical to have the railline to NOB come from the east, as 564 does. Maybe there is a transfer point from the military highway stop, so people can get to the airport and NOB off that line? Downtown doesnt necessarily have to be the only significant transfer point of the system

Hopefully, one day it'll look something like this.....

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I'm surprised you didn't mention a route to the airport. I actually believe that should be a consideration before NOB. With all the security concerns, I'm not it would get the value a line to the airport would get, but I could be wrong.

I would like to extend your thoughts to include a high-speed rail system to link up eastern NC (Elizabeth city, Moyock, etc..) to possibly connect to a south Norfolk LRT hub.

I agree with the art district idea and every other idea. LRT systems only work if you concentrate your resources.

ODU is a possible and obvious LRT extension; they will always have a new groups of riders by the nature of its business. I.E, NSU and ODU get new freshmen every year that are not allowed to bring cars on campus...That is consistent ridership every fall and possibly spring while obviously dropping off in the summer. They tend to shop and socialize in DT during the week and weekends.

NOT sure extending LRT up Hampton blvd is a winner, I think it will be more fitting through the backside of Ghent and then connecting up near odu.

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I didn't run a line to the airport because of past conversations I had on this site that made it seem like a line to the airport would be unnecessary, but there could easily be a shuttle bus that runs from the Red line to the airport, which is basically what you get with the two airports in NYC and Oakland is the same way, though I like it when the train runs straight to the airport, but it isn't a needed thing.

The extension I did with the Blue line which is the current line, I stopped it at the gates at NOB because that should be something the base then provides its own shuttle service for the rest of the distance to allow workers to get to where they are going.  Also if military subsidies are used, then it would be easy to make the cost of rail passes for people at the base very cheap or even free which would be a big promoter of rail use.

I didn't run a line up the interstate to 564 because I was just doing a Norfolk/Portsmouth system and it wouldn't make sense to run a line that way unless there was heavy backing coming from VaBeach, which I don't see that happening at this point, but I do see an area like Military Circle becoming a transit hub in the future where riders can make transfers to other trains heading to different portions of the region.

Also, the idea of running the Blue line up Hampton Blvd is because I don't think the line should be too far from Colley Ave, I think it would be more beneficial to have a line that is easy access for people that live in Ghent to be able to take short local rides on it without having to use their car for the same tasks.  It would also make living in Ghent easier for ODU students who would also not need their cars as much, making getting to class much easier.  Obviously that road has some technical issues and would probably require portions of the line to be elevated, especially at the southern end of the road.

I will say, that I think if Norfolk is going to have a successful rail system, that it needs to refocus itself and have a better connection with downtown to the rest of the city.  When you look at this system compared to Hampton Roads as a whole, it is a very small percentage of the region that would have access to this, but it would also separate Norfolk and Portsmouth from the rest of the region in a sense of offering a different lifestyle than the typical suburban lifestyle that is already available.  Also with this, I obviously did not draw up any bike maps for the city, but I think that is also an important factor for giving the city progressive change that would help bring the city together better.

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There really is no possible way to run a train up and down Hampton Blvd. until you get to 22nd St. The most logical way to run a light rail line to ODU and the Naval Base would be from the Monticello Station and run it north on Monticello. At 35th St., turn left and go down then right on Hampton where it is much wider.

Also, a line to the airport is vital in this scenario you have.

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If you were gonna run the line to NOB up Monticello, I would say make it turn at 26th and 27th, having a line going one way down each of those roads. Yeah below 22nd, it would get very tight and would definitely have to be an elevated line through that portion, but running it along 26th and 27th to Hampton would be able to keep it at grade.

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Also, I am not sure if there is a need to run a line straight to the airport, the Red Line is less that 2 miles from the airport and basically a straight shot for a shuttle bus to do, and it would be very easy to have one circling every 10 minutes.  Also, Oakland doesn't have a rail line running to the airport, and I didn't find it difficult getting to the rail via bus.

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I just like the idea of it, again possibilties. In that of course, you can connect to janaf and military circle, if you come up military.

Again, concentration is the key to LRT and the districting you suggested. Maybe with this, janaf will become its own type of district. Its defiinitely enough room to do so.

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About a commuter rail, there was talk out of Edenton of having a commuter/tourist line using the existing Chesapeake & Albemarle Railroad lines. This line would go from Edenton through Hertford, Elizabeth City, Moyock, and Chesapeake. And the line could connect to the Harbor Park stop that the Amtrak train will be using.

Also, i agree that there should be a light rail line to ORF. Isn't there an abandoned rail line around that part of Norfolk?

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I actually think commuter rail or something larger than LRT would work better for the rest of the metro and especially connecting to the peninsula because it would be able to offer fewer, but key stops and make it easier for people to get through the metro to wherever they are going faster.

Obviously a transportation hub would be needed for the city to make it easy to connect commuter rail, to the most LRT lines, as well as Amtrak and possibly high speed rail. It is a shame the city tore down its old train station because that would of came in handy for something like this, but without it, it would give the region and city a new piece of architecture that could be seen as a gateway structure.

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There really is no possible way to run a train up and down Hampton Blvd. until you get to 22nd St. The most logical way to run a light rail line to ODU and the Naval Base would be from the Monticello Station and run it north on Monticello. At 35th St., turn left and go down then right on Hampton where it is much wider.

Also, a line to the airport is vital in this scenario you have.

There are plenty of ways to run light rail through hampton blvd. Single track is always an option as is running the trains double tracked in traffic until it gets to a broader section where it can have its own right of way. Happens in several areas across the country. Just because you can't double track a train through a section doesn't make it impossible, in fact in someways it becomes a cheaper option with less infrastructure. The trains themselves somewhat run in traffic downtown anyway as they are subject to certain traffic lights and patterns. Would be no different here. However, the monticello option is attractive as there is already a line along monticello that could just be extended, however, the interruption in traffic could be a no go along that stretch of brambleton as well as the need to interrupt train service to alter the train tracks to incorporate a split track system would be prohibitive for the system, unless the work was only done at midnight to 6:00 am. Not impossible just highly unlikely.

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Never considered the single lane up to the wider portion of hampton blvd. But the only way that could work is if they make the trains light priority. If they make the train light priority, it could get up the section of hamptonblvd pretty quickly. I must admit though,the monitcello options sounds tons better. But i actually prefer it to travel on the backside of ghent then loop around back to odu, that's a better option if you ask me. Lots of room back there and hampton blvd with the given traffic and potential for accidents if LRT was added, its just not worth it in my opinion. Additionally, its gives everyone in west ghent a hop on point, possible two and not much has to be destroyed in its wake.I am still trying to map out the line from the airport, strike through the city via industrial park. Once it gets to ingleside road, I can't see where it goes from there. I know a few streets down, another NS line runs north

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There are plenty of ways to run light rail through hampton blvd. Single track is always an option as is running the trains double tracked in traffic until it gets to a broader section where it can have its own right of way. Happens in several areas across the country. Just because you can't double track a train through a section doesn't make it impossible, in fact in someways it becomes a cheaper option with less infrastructure. The trains themselves somewhat run in traffic downtown anyway as they are subject to certain traffic lights and patterns. Would be no different here. However, the monticello option is attractive as there is already a line along monticello that could just be extended, however, the interruption in traffic could be a no go along that stretch of brambleton as well as the need to interrupt train service to alter the train tracks to incorporate a split track system would be prohibitive for the system, unless the work was only done at midnight to 6:00 am. Not impossible just highly unlikely.

The Monticello option would make more sense for Hampton Bvld, then having it cut over to Hampton after the tracks. As for interruptions with train service, that really isnt a big deal because it is planned out properly. Here in Portland with a number of our rail lines expanding in recent years, there has been several times where current tracks had to be modified and all of the work was usually done within a 4-48 hour period over the weekend that would involve shutting down the line through downtown and using shuttle buses in place. But in the grand scheme of things, the interruption was a small fraction that was easily dealt with.

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According to Frank Duke and Jack Kavanaugh, the option from EVMS up Hampton Blvd will NEVER happen. They even said 35th St. is the best option since a lot of it is retail. Light rail going down 35th would really revitalize that street.

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With all the talk of new proposals I thought I would bump my old thread to restart this conversation about what is going on in Norfolk.

With this talk of "small downtown," a good move for the city would be to create a new district from the ground up to add to downtown. Currently the city is running out of downtown space under the current size. Downtown has Granby St, Main St, and Waterside. Along Main, almost all the buildable lots are gone, so there is basically no chance of any new buildings to be built downtown other without tearing down buildings (with the exception of the convention center lot and the Snyder lot). The city needs to make a move to create a new office space district within downtown, the easiest option would be to use the portion of SPQ, the old triangle between St Paul and Church, but the city needs all of the triangle which means all the buildings on that site would need to go besides the church. If new streets are planned and a massive urban public/private plan is put in place it would help push the downtown boundary as well as instill an importance of the rest of the SPQ to be added to downtown.

When I get a chance I will do a little bit of graphic work to point out better what I am talking about.

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With all the talk of new proposals I thought I would bump my old thread to restart this conversation about what is going on in Norfolk.

With this talk of "small downtown," a good move for the city would be to create a new district from the ground up to add to downtown. Currently the city is running out of downtown space under the current size. Downtown has Granby St, Main St, and Waterside. Along Main, almost all the buildable lots are gone, so there is basically no chance of any new buildings to be built downtown other without tearing down buildings (with the exception of the convention center lot and the Snyder lot). The city needs to make a move to create a new office space district within downtown, the easiest option would be to use the portion of SPQ, the old triangle between St Paul and Church, but the city needs all of the triangle which means all the buildings on that site would need to go besides the church. If new streets are planned and a massive urban public/private plan is put in place it would help push the downtown boundary as well as instill an importance of the rest of the SPQ to be added to downtown.

When I get a chance I will do a little bit of graphic work to point out better what I am talking about.

There are still plenty of lots DT. Snyder lot, McArthur Mall, and even smaller lots still dot Monticello and Brambleton.

What the city needs to do is create an art/residential district in the Fort Norfolk area. They have a vision already set out, but then need to build it.

What Norfolk truly lacks is a reason to live in the DT area. Not enough jobs, and not enough arts and entertainment to bring the young.

Norfolk also needs to do a better job of highlighting their architectural gems like the Crystler Museum and Harrison Opera House which don't feel like they are part of the DT.

Norfolk also needs gathering plazas for people with fountains or statues to create a sense of community.

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There are still plenty of lots DT. Snyder lot, McArthur Mall, and even smaller lots still dot Monticello and Brambleton.

You are talking small potatoes here, at most there are four decent size lots that would be large enough for new office buildings (large footprint buildings,) the other smaller lots are just infill lots which do need development, but I am talking a much larger scale than that. Mathmatically the area bound by St Paul, Market, Church, and Brambleton could hold about 15 city blocks, with the blocks being about 200ftx200ft and 50ft streets running through the area. Obviously with the shape of the area it makes it harder just to overlay a simple grid, but it could easily house 10 full block buildingswith room for the churches and still leaving enough area for park and plaza spaces, which if each building is built to the street and designed to allow the bases to be fully leasable for retail and such regardless of type of building, that would give a massive expansion of downtown and only require removing a handful of small buildings and possibly relocating a limited number of businesses.

What the city needs to do is create an art/residential district in the Fort Norfolk area. They have a vision already set out, but then need to build it.

I agree, but Fort Norfolk should be treated as a potential urban neighborhood that is near downtown, not an extension of downtown simply because of its natural barrier (water.) The most that can really be done in that area would be some form of apartment/condo complex and marina along the dockside with maybe a bordwalk style design that allowed places to open up along the water. The rest of the area from what I remember is all individually owned by a number of businesses that would be much easier for letting private developers to buy out after pushing to have a waterfront complex built.

As for the arts district, I am talking about a real arts district, something that would be more seen as an extension of downtown, which I will answer later.

What Norfolk truly lacks is a reason to live in the DT area. Not enough jobs, and not enough arts and entertainment to bring the young.

Norfolk also needs to do a better job of highlighting their architectural gems like the Crystler Museum and Harrison Opera House which don't feel like they are part of the DT.

If Norfolk pushed for an open redevelopment of that bit of triangle land that would bring in more office space, it would also lead to more people working downtown, which those would be the type of people that would be more willing to live in apartment/condo towers in Fort Norfolk. Also building in this area would begin the phases that I was talking about for the SPQ that would help for getting the ball rolling with redevelopment of that area as well as making it more of an extension of downtown. Which if below market rate apartments are also added to this mix, it would definitely make things a little bit more attractive to younger urbanites looking for an urban area to live in there, which are more likely to put up living closer to bad neighborhoods for an awesome little apartment they can say is downtown.

As for the Chrysler Museum, I have said this before, the area between Brambleton and the Chrysler should be where the arts district is where it is full of art galleries, artist loft work spaces, apartment/condos, and a bunch of restuarants and retail that cater to that kind of market, which would then have the Chrysler Art Museum as the centerpiece to a growing arts district in downtown....no good downtown doesn't have an arts district of some sort. also doing this kind of connection would also expand downtown northward up to the Chrysler, thus making it more apart of downtown.

Norfolk also needs gathering plazas for people with fountains or statues to create a sense of community.

If the triangle area that I am talking about it redeveloped, the city could easily add 2-3 new parks and plazas in downtown that work with the surrounding developments to help better connect the area. Also the city would need to make a bold move to reconnect TPP to the rest of downtown because that is also a huge asset for open space downtown.

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Then I guess the real question is, how do you measure art activity in the area to see if it is worth developing into an arts district. Or do you just do it and hope that it works out?

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Then I guess the real question is, how do you measure art activity in the area to see if it is worth developing into an arts district. Or do you just do it and hope that it works out?

Not sure how one would "measure art activity" but I would say, if there is enough people in the city and region with money, and if there is enough things that promote art, then it should be easy to establish an area and put together a committee to creat a driving force for it. I will say, I remember the Boardwalk Art Walk being a huge event each year, and I would be shocked if a city that size didn't have some form of art community within it...even Omaha has a nice arts district in their downtown.

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Not sure how one would "measure art activity" but I would say, if there is enough people in the city and region with money, and if there is enough things that promote art, then it should be easy to establish an area and put together a committee to creat a driving force for it. I will say, I remember the Boardwalk Art Walk being a huge event each year, and I would be shocked if a city that size didn't have some form of art community within it...even Omaha has a nice arts district in their downtown.

I guess what I mean is, you would have a need to suggest a "build it and they will come" type of development.

I do not see art as a huge thing around here, but then again, I do not look for it either. It just seems like a stretch that the local gov. would give it anything thought. I do not want to talk bad about anyone, however, none of them seem like they deal in art at all. Every time something this big is suggested, someone has some stake in it.

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I guess what I mean is, you would have a need to suggest a "build it and they will come" type of development.

I do not see art as a huge thing around here, but then again, I do not look for it either. It just seems like a stretch that the local gov. would give it anything thought. I do not want to talk bad about anyone, however, none of them seem like they deal in art at all. Every time something this big is suggested, someone has some stake in it.

I don't know. I think art definitely has it's place Downtown. There is a large art following amongst the younger population. You just need to see the thousands of people that attend the Stockley Garden Art Festival and the new Art Everywhere downtown. Of course, you've also got D'Art Center in the Selden Arcade, which is dedicated to displaying art, as well as teaching it. The Chrysler Museum also has a poplur Glass-blowing exhibit that's been getting rave reviews and has drawn tons of visitors.

I think Norfolk should definitely capitalize on that interest, and the area near the Chrysler Museum just north of Brambleton, might be a good location to look at.

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I heard rumors that Art Everywhere might not happen again. Not sure how true it is. (I had involvement in 3 projects in it, but only hear bits and pieces about it.)

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