Rowe highlights Portsmouth's positives in State of City address

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) -- Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe used his second State of The City address to talk about what the city has to offer.

Instead of big announcements, Rowe wanted to educate people about the city.

"I think that people, particularly in Hampton Roads, they truly don’t know all the wonderful things about Portsmouth,” he said.

The city’s downtown area, successful small businesses, and connection to the Coast Guard were just a few of the things Rowe highlighted.

“I think that often as a region, we have low self-esteem. We tend to beat up on ourselves, but we have a dynamite region,” he said.

Rowe believes that Portsmouth’s significance to the area is often underestimated.

He said it’s a transportation hub, due to the Port of Virginia, not just for our area, but the rest of the country.

“Each city has a special role to play but Portsmouth is right here in the middle of Hampton Roads and the gateway to the heartland of Hampton Roads,” Rowe said.

He said the state of the city is excellent due to new infrastructure, such as the opening of the Martin Luther King Expressway, new residences opening up throughout the city, and a strong school district that’s offers a number of STEM programs.

Rowe said he’s excited that four high school seniors will be graduating with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree earned through the Tidewater Community College Portsmouth Campus.

He said the district is the only one in the region that offers the program.

Despite the growth, Rowe said the city does face some challenges.

"As we look to the future, it’s about finding the best use for the land we have,” he said.

Rowe said the city can’t grow geographically, like others in Hampton Roads, but experts believe more people will move into urban areas over the next couple of decades.

Portsmouth will have to build or renovate new residences.

He said they’ve already taken the initiative to do something.

In February, city council approved half a million dollars for the city manager to start plans to relocate city hall, the jail, and public safety offices off the waterfront so residences can be built.

Rowe also talked about Portside, which is also off the water.

He said a new building will open there in the summer.

There will also be free concerts on Thursday nights with a number of vendors.

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