As Va. Beach shares Dome site project deal, others say funding should go to flooding fixes


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach’s deputy city manager held a media briefing Wednesday morning to explain a deal to bring a multimillion-dollar entertainment complex to the city.

Ron Williams explained more of the terms and key elements of an agreement between Virginia Beach and Venture Realty Group. 10 On Your Side was first to report that Venture Realty accepted the terms set by the resort city earlier this week. 

VIDEO: Williams discusses Dome site project specifics

If you listen to city leadership the Dome site development fills a void at the Oceanfront, it’s big and bold.

“The Dome Project” is a $328 million proposal to bring an entertainment venue to a site spanning from 18th to 20th streets between Pacific and Arctic Avenues. 

For 36 years prior to 1994, this area was home to The Virginia Beach Dome.

The city cost for the project would be roughly $96 million. 10 On Your Side has learned that won’t come from the general fund, but from revenues from the tourist investment program.

READ: Dome Site Development Briefing Sheet

The project — which has been backed by musician and Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams — calls for a 5,000 seat outdoor music venue, surf park, restaurants, office space and residential units.

Williams say the Dome Site Development Term Sheet is like a road map on the deal between the City and Venture Realty Group.

“It brings net new demand, it gives something for everyone to do not just visitors, but residents alike, and it puts us on the map.”

Here are some of the costs associated with the project: 

  • Parking garages: A combined 1,934 spaces ($30,000 per space) for $58 million 
  • Entertainment venue: 3,200 seats at about $30,000,000 
  • Common spaces, including infrastructure: $7.5 million
  • Total Capital Investment $95,520,000
  • And a potential annual incentive payment for beating expectations in revenue: $5 million 

Developers hope the project will help change the culture and perception of the Oceanfront. The music venue could lead to around $1 million a year in revenue for the city, according to studies.

10 On Your Side asked Williams the funding is coming out of the city’s general fund or from schools. 

“No, all the capital investments, and all incentives that may be generated are from the project or from the Tourist Investment Program.”

Known as the TIP fund, these are taxes from cigarettes, admissions, restaurant meals, hotel rooms, amusement, and other places too.

A rendering of the proposed enterntain complex at the old Dome site in Virginia Beach. (Credit: Venture Realty Group)

“It is correct to say debt service will be paid by tourism, but there is money coming from residents like the amusement tax, 100 percent of that goes into the project.”

Virginia Beach Councilman John Moss is opposed to the “The Wave” Dome site development and says Virginia Beach has bigger priorities, “Until we have a responsibly funded flood mitigation program we should not be using debt for anything else, but for flooding projects, and we don’t have that yet.”

Moss also thinks before you build this he thinks you need an independent assessment or another opinion on the $329 million project.

“I think you should never be afraid to get a second opinion, but do I think the city manager has fulfilled the term sheet the best he can that the city majority wants. I think that is correct. I have never supported this project and I am not supporting it.”

Moss thinks flooding is the issue, and should be used for debt before the Wave project.

“The project for Windsor Woods and Plaza just went up to $297 million that $95 million would be better spent protecting residents of Princess Anne Plaza than building a tourist project.”

10 On Your Side also learned the city is still trying to resolve an issue with the Virginia Beach United Methodist Church on using their parking lot spaces to construct a building with parking decks on the lower floors.

The project is not a done deal until city council approves the terms of agreement between the city and Venture Realty. Council is expected to learn more about those terms Friday, Jan. 4, and Tuesday, Jan. 8

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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