VB council approves plan for controversial 22-floor, $250M expansion to upscale retirement community

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A controversial proposal to build what would be Virginia Beach’s third-tallest building has been approved.

During a meeting Tuesday night, Virginia Beach City Council voted 5-2 to approve Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay’s request to expand its facilities with a 22-floor independent living facility and parking garage and a seven-story tall assisted living facility.

In total, the project would add 340 units to Westminster-Canterbury: 217 units in the 22-story building and 123 total units in the seven-story building for assisted living and memory care units.

Those voting for the $250-million project included Mayor Bobby Dyer and council members Barbara Henley, Guy Tower, Sabrina Wooten and Michael Berlucchi.

Those against the project included council members Aaron Rouse and John Moss. Vice Mayor James Wood and council members Louis Jones and Rosemary Wilson all previously declared conflicts of interest. Jessica Abbott was absent.

The public hearing on the issue Tuesday went for several hours with speakers’ concerns spanning numerous issues.

Community groups have previously expressed concern with the project, saying its location — built on the current sites and parking lots of the Casa del Playa condominiums, former Lynnhaven Fish House restaurant and former Lynnhaven Fishing Pier — is not ideal.

Todd Solomon, president of Shore Drive Community Coalition, told WAVY News last week there was concern that the building’s presence could create unnecessary shadows on the beach, obstruct views of longtime property owners and hurt property values. They also feel it could set a precedent for other developers to follow.

Other condominium owners nearby have hired a lawyer to fight the project.

Last week, that attorney argued the city can’t approve the plan as it is because a section of city code sets the maximum height for “housing for seniors and disabled persons or handicapped” at 165 feet.

The issue isn’t necessarily all over yet. There is still beach access that Westminster-Canterbury wants to relocate, but the Virginia beach city attorney said that requires a “supermajority” vote from council — which is impossible with 3 members declaring conflict.

Stay with WAVY.com for updates.

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