Developer Armada Hoffler withdraws proposal for Portsmouth waterfront redevelopment


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach-based developer Armada Hoffler is backing out of a partnership with the City of Portsmouth that could have led to the relocation of several municipal buildings along the Elizabeth River.

A picture of a letter saying such was posted to Facebook on Tuesday night by Councilman Bill Moody.

The letter sent to Robert Moore, Portsmouth’s director of economic development, from Armada Hoffler pointed to negative public comments on the proposal and a lack of agreement among city leaders on what to do going forward.

Portsmouth recently tabled a vote to give Armada Hoffler $475,000 to develop more detailed plans on the “Crawford Gateway Revitalization Plan,” which would move the tax-exempt city hall and public safety building off the waterfront and replace them with apartments and retail.

“We believe that both Partners in a Public Private Partnership need to be fully committed in order to achieve success,” said Armada Hoffler Executive Vice President Bernard Shumate in the letter. “The recent City Council work Work Session and subsequent commentary indicates that our partnership is seen as controversial by some members of the council and other city personnel.”

Mayor John Rowe says he’s disappointed but no surprised.

“We were so early in the negotiations that it was absolutely no deal, so it’s understandable,” Rowe said.

He says looking forward he’s going to propose separating the city hall project and the public safety building project.

“This building we are in, city hall, is wearing out, but it’s still usable. Our police department though is essentially homeless, they don’t have a police building, they don’t have a police headquarters that someone can point to, so we need to put that on a fast track.”

Mayor Rowe says the note the city and Armada Hoffler left on was that there’s still interest, but maybe for another project down the road.

10 On Your Side reached out to Armada Hoffler, their spokesperson said they have no further comment past the letter.

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