Portsmouth city council wants more discussion for relocation of city hall, public safety buildings


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — More time, that’s what Portsmouth city leaders say is needed to figure out the future of new city hall and public safety buildings. 

This comes after a public hearing on Monday where many residents said they’re not happy with the current proposal to relocate the two buildings. 

10 On Your Side spoke with the mayor about the decision to table the vote about the project. 

John Rowe said they want to make sure the public’s comments are taken into consideration when planning for the new buildings, and he said cost is a big factor for this project. 

In a quick vote, Portsmouth city leaders decided to hold off for now on moving forward with plans to relocate two major buildings.  

 “It’s important that we get the right location not just because of costs but what bests serves the public,” Rowe said. 

Relocating city hall and the public safety building has been the plan for years now, and last year developer Armada Hoffler gave the city an unsolicited proposal for these new facilities.  

City leaders were supposed to vote Tuesday night on whether to approve $475,000 to move forward with more detailed plans for this project. However, that was met with a lot of pushback by residents and even some other council members.  

Council voted to table the item for a later date so the conversation could continue.  

“The decision that we make in 2019/2020 on the location, the citizens of Portsmouth will have to live with this for a half century,” Rowe said. 

The developer’s proposal would move city hall from the waterfront to the County Street garage location just two blocks away.   

At the public hearing, many residents who spoke said that location wasn’t central enough. Some also wanted other developer offers to be considered.  

“We’ve already done what people asked us to do and we got one proposal, but that proposal was withdrawn,” Rowe said. 

Rowe said the site of the new buildings will determine the cost and he anticipates several more discussions before moving forward. 

He also wants to reassure the public that there is no deal yet with Armada Hoffler. There is only a memorandum that says the city is agreeing to talk with the developer to see if an agreement can be negotiated. 

We’ll let you know when the item is back on the agenda. 

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