Full text of the GNC, DNC, and VisitNorfolk’s position paper on the future of Waterside.
The Future of Waterside
The transformation of downtown Norfolk, fueled by the efforts of the City and private business, has increased the appeal of the City to its citizens and visitors. One of the key elements of the spirit of Norfolk is its waterfront; and central to that has been the role of Waterside.
To that end, several representative groups – Downtown Norfolk Council, Greater Norfolk Corporation, and VisitNorfolk (NCVB), – recently came together to reaffirm the importance of Waterside and highlight their desire to assist the City of Norfolk in ensuring that Waterside is positioned to be a sustainable, contributing asset to the City’s Waterfront.
These organizations agree that:
Waterside has served its purpose of sparking a revitalized downtown Norfolk by attracting retail and restaurants; residents and tourists, as evidenced by the success of areas like Granby Street and MacArthur Center.
But now, in its current state, Waterside actually detracts from the City’s image and consumes scarce resources that could be better used elsewhere.
Our citizens deserve better.
We must work now to ensure that Waterside is ready for the next opportunity.
To that end, we need a comprehensive Waterfront Strategy – from Freemason to Harbor Park – that envisions the role that a new Waterside could play in adding to the appeal of this destination and igniting the next phase in the development of downtown.
The downtown business stakeholder groups see the value of and are willing to contribute to the creation of a whole Waterfront Strategy.
Over 3000 citizens participated in the City’s Waterside survey; a testament to the community ownership that is essential to a process that ensures Waterside in a next generation retains a vital and relevant role on the waterfront.
We must also inject a market and financial reality into the discussion. Norfolk needs its resources in many places and cannot sustain investments in a structure that is functionally and operationally obsolete.
It might be that tearing down the current Waterside and creating a temporary open space could represent the best preparation – intellectually and emotionally – for moving forward.
The City has the opportunity to create a public-private partnership that attracts world-class ideas for the next iteration of Waterside that leverages new urbanism concepts that can position and sustain Norfolk as a leading urban center for years to come.
The business community will actively support the City in developing a community engagement strategy to find a fresh approach on this site.
The planning process should acknowledge that there are current waterfront businesses that are doing well, and a few remaining tenants in Waterside who want to remain downtown.
Any future action should incorporate measures for these current Waterside tenants to remain downtown.
The business community is behind moving forward on a waterfront strategy that
…leverages our rich maritime history
…captures Norfolk’s spirit
…and once again serves as a welcoming, valued space for our citizens and visitors.
Downtown Norfolk Council
Greater Norfolk Corporation