Poplar Halls Community Center included in new design plans with apartments


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY)– A little over a month ago, residents in the Poplar Halls neighborhood of Norfolk caught wind the old elementary school and adjacent property might be turned into a 364-unit apartment complex.

When 10 On Your Side first spoke to Poplar Halls Civic League President Burrell Corbin, one of his biggest complaints was city leaders promised the civic league they’d turn the school into a recreation center years ago.

Residents say the Breeden Company’s plans to develop there didn’t stick to that and they were going to fight back.

After Breeden Company officials and Norfolk City Council members met with the civic league, a proposed design was sent out.

The rendering includes a Poplar Halls Community Center with an outdoor pool and cabana, a large meeting room, breakout rooms, a kitchen, a fitness room, and restrooms. Plus, new single-family homes and new small-scale multifamily homes.

A press release from the city says “The proposed design allows access to the apartments without increasing traffic along Piping Rock Road or through the existing neighborhood. The project will also enhance the existing trail network within the neighborhood and connect to Poplar Hall Park and the Tide Light Rail Station.”

“We’re going to have three homes built for sale — not for rent, for sale — so that will help this little area right here in Poplar Halls,” said Corbin.

The design shows the apartment buildings which are explained to have a parking garage underneath, closer to the highway on the old Great Steaks property.

City officials say the proposed design prevents increased traffic through the neighborhood. Corbin says this is a step in the right direction.

“I understood where city council is coming from because people do need homes but don’t just take ours… Let us have something,” Corbin explained.

Corbin says there are still lingering concerns about the project creating traffic issues — but hopes to find out more at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

In a statement, the city spokesperson said: “City staff is pleased Breeden Company has incorporated feedback from the community and revised the design to include a privately funded community center with an outdoor pool and cabana, meeting rooms, kitchen, fitness room and restrooms. The project will also enhance the existing trail network within the neighborhood and connect to Poplar Hall Park and the Tide Light Rail Station. The City will continue to work with Breeden and the community to ensure the proposed design allows access to the apartments while maintaining ease of travel for current residents in the neighborhood.   

As a reminder, the proposed project is still in the early phases. The site must be rezoned and the project must be approved by Norfolk’s Architectural Review Board, Planning Commission, and receive final approval from the Norfolk City Council.  We look forward to continued collaboration with residents, and the City Council as this project moves through the City process.”

There are still about two months before Norfolk City Council revisits the land sale.

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