UPDATE: NEON Community Open Space Charrette

 

WPA led a well-attended public design charrette to determine the future use of the Cofer Lot in the NEON District at the Hurrah Players’ Copeland Center on September 19th.

The Cofer Lot, at the location of a demolished former auto dealership, is poised to be designated as much-needed open space in the District positioned in a perfect spot on West Olney Road midway between the offerings on Granby Street and the Chrysler Museum.

Some charrette participants suggested a public art space with opportunities for sculpture and performance art. Others desired a tranquil green oasis welcome to all, perhaps with a playground for small children. Voices for the skateboarding community advocated for a safe and welcoming place for sport. The challenge is to accommodate multiple uses in a small footprint, and participants seemed open to discussion and compromise.

TONIGHT: The results of the Charrette and next steps for the site will be presented at this month’s NEON District Committee Meeting, at the Push Comedy Theater in the NEON at 5:30 pm. 763 Granby Street, Norfolk.

City of Norfolk Receives Two Excellence in Economic Development Awards

The City of Norfolk’s Economic Development Department was honored at an awards ceremony at the International Economic Development Council Annual Conference held September 17th  – 20th  in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Norfolk received The Silver Excellence in Economic Development Award for 824 Military Highway, a project in the category of Real Estate Redevelopment & Reuse as well as a Bronze Excellence in Economic Development Award for its Norfolk Works Waterside Week Hiring Event campaign, a project in the category of Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Single Event of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

“We are grateful that the City of Norfolk has been recognized, once again, for impressive achievements in economic development,” said Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander. “While we remain committed to serving as a destination for innovative businesses, we will continue to be creative in our approach understanding that the most important returns for our residents are good jobs, reliable tax revenues, and sustainable growth,” says Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Mayor, City of Norfolk.

“On behalf of the IEDC board of directors and Excellence in Economic Development Awards Advisory Committee, congratulations to the City of Norfolk. Not only did they work to provide a necessary service to their community; but also, their participation in the awards program sheds light on their stellar projects which other communities can now use as a benchmark.”  – Michael Langley, FM, CEO of GREATER MSP, Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN, and 2017 IEDC Board Chair

The “824 Military” award winning project recognized a City-owned, 209K SF former JCPenny department store on a 15-acre site which was adapted for reuse into a state of the art office building. The City purchased the store for $2.5 million and invested another $15 million in upgrades to control a portion of the 122 acre mall site, influence its long-term revitalization as a stakeholder and demonstrate Norfolk’s commitment to renewal of the entire corridor.  In addition to being a redevelopment success, the 824 Military property is a financial success – approximately 75% leased and approximately 850 new jobs to the city.

Photography by: Yuzhu Zheng of UP Studio

Norfolk’s launch of Norfolk Works won for its Waterside Week Hiring Event. In 2017, Norfolk created 6,000 job opportunities from projects underway in the city.  The Norfolk City Council wanted to make the jobs available to residents in the city and the Economic Development Department opened Norfolk Works, a job resource center for job seekers, employers and a workforce development network. The Waterside District (Entertainment Consulting International) was the first client. Waterside District identified their hiring needs and process requirements prior to the event. During the event, Waterside District provided on-site recruiters and a manager able to make on-the-spot hires.

Development Department staff, including Norfolk Works, developed the event and pitched the idea to the client. Department staff recruited partner organizations; coordinated outreach efforts; and managed all logistics during the event. 

Partners helped promote the event and provided staff assistance during it. They include: AARP; Norfolk Department of Social Services; Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority; Opportunity Inc. (Workforce Development Board); Virginia Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired; Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services; and Second Chances reentry program.

Waterside District was positively affected in that it hired over 230 people, many of whom had one or more barriers to employment and were provided training.

“The awards process is a thorough, non-biased and multi-layered process. These are extraordinary accomplishments for all winners, and an overall great effort by all participants. We look forward to next year’s awards competition,” Langley said.

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