Portsmouth talks relocation of city hall at public meeting


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — There were a lot of opinions at a public hearing for a new city hall building in Portsmouth. 

The proposal would relocate city hall from the waterfront, and includes a new public safety building. 

However, many residents don’t seem to be on board with the whole idea. 

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

The plans for a new city hall include two options. 

Both would move city hall from the waterfront to the County Street garage location just two blocks away.  

Option A includes a new 68,000 square foot building along with a separate seven-story parking garage to be built in its place. 

Option B would have city hall built on top of the parking garage. 

But many are unhappy with the proposed new location. 

“It’s zone A flood zone, susceptible not only to hurricane surge but to sea level rise in general,” said one resident. 

The location of the new public safety building is proposed for Willet Drive near Maryview Hospital. 

The current city hall would be turned into retail and apartment space.  

“I’m very excited about the prospect of changing our waterfront – the idea of hotels, the idea of restaurants, the idea of shops,” said one woman. 

While many support that aspect of the project, others are concerned the city is making a rushed decision.  

“We understand the need to build new facilities, but we do have a problem with choosing a developer without other bids,” said one leader from a local civic league. 

According to the mayor, there is no contract or commitment to this proposal yet.  

However, if the city decides not to move forward with Armada Hoffler, the city could potentially have to pay them $475,000. 

Those building designs would then become the property of the city.  

Still, that didn’t sit well with residents along with some council members.  

“I’m concerned about you all and how you handle our revenue,” one woman said. 

Councilman Paul Battle is against the overall proposal. 

“This is a terrible deal,” he said. “There are too many variables that will cost you too much money.” 

City council will vote on Tuesday on whether to agree to pay Armada Hoffler that sum of money in case they don’t move forward with them for the project.

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