Survey seeks to find how many workers will return to downtown Norfolk

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A once-bustling Granby Street in downtown Norfolk it seems could use a pandemic pick-me-up.

10 On Your Side found empty tables in restaurants up and down the corridor at noon on Monday.

“It’s kind of a ghost town at times,” aLatte Café owner Neil Sanders told WAVY.

Sanders cut his operating hours and cut his staff by more than half in the past year and half.

“There’s no office crowd that’s coming to get their last pick-me-up around 2 or 3 o’clock,” he said.

Eateries like his may benefit most from a survey sent out last week from the Downtown Norfolk Council.

“It is just to get a gist of what are their plans for the, you know, next three months, six months, so we can know what we can tell our restaurants to expect,” said DNC Marketing Director Jessica Kliner.

The survey is mostly geared toward bigger offices in high-rise buildings that shut down completely
before the vaccine due to issues with COVID-19 safety and elevators, Kliner said.

“How long would it take if only one person or two people could be in an elevator, where there used to be nine people? You know, how long is it going to take people to get up to the 20th floor?” she said.

Workers are starting to come back to the office, but how many will stay on hybrid or work from home schedules indefinitely? Kliner said they expect to see a mix of answers.

“I think it’s going to be interesting to see,” she said.

Parking may be an issue as well, Kliner told WAVY. The DNC survey could help the city plan for spaces or how hours might change.

“I’m interested to see the results but for me, I’m just interested to see the students back. I mean, that’s a big part of our business,” Sanders told WAVY.com.

Reopening Tidewater Community College and the Governor’s School for the Arts for full in-person learning will pump a lot of life back into his coffee shop and the sleepy streets of downtown Norfolk.

The DNC will collect responses through the end of this week.

Click here to view the survey, which can be filled out by local businesses.

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