NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The City of Norfolk took a big step Friday toward future development of the Military Circle corridor, by approving the purchase of The Gallery at Military Circle.

The shopping mall, which is located on North Military Highway, has already seen some dramatic changes over the past few years.

In 2014, the Norfolk Economic Development Authority (EDA) purchased the former JC Penney’s and turned it into an office building, which the city says is currently 100% leased. Optima Health rents a large part of that space.

On Friday, the EDA announced that it has purchased the entire mall and surrounding parcels at a price of $11 million. A recent assessment values the site at more than $41 million, the city said in a news release.

“Today marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter of Norfolk’s history. The Military Circle corridor is the crossroads of the Hampton Roads region. The acquisition of this site is strategic for the City and allows us to not only bolster economic development but to address resilience challenges by concentrating future development in this area.”

Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander

Since the purchase was made by the EDA, no money from the city’s general fund was used. Rather, the EDA uses revenue bonds to pay for the land, which is defined as “a municipal bond supported by the revenue from a specific project, such as a toll bridge, highway or local stadium,” according to a definition from Investopedia.

There are still several storefronts occupied and a movie theater, but the announcement comes as the mall is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City spokeswoman Lori Crouch said nothing would change about the operation of the mall in the short term. Pacific Retail Capital Partners will still manage this.

The exact plans for the corridor were not released Friday, but the city said a 2017 state-funded report showed the potential for more than 6,000 housing units and non-residential development.

One vision is to create a mixed-use development with parks and walkable and bikeable streets.

“Exciting changes are ahead that will reflect the City’s long-term vision for this area,” said Jared Chalk, Executive Director of the Norfolk Economic Development Authority.

The sale did not include the long-shuttered Doubletree hotel that prominently displays the “Military Circle” sign.

It’s currently being marketed for $3 million.

Map view provided by the City of Norfolk. May 1, 2020


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