Virginia Beach buys more land for dome site redevelopment project

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Demolition of a former gas station at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront is expected to begin soon after the city purchased it to make way for its Dome site redevelopment project.

The Virginia Beach Development Authority recently closed on the 17th Street Automotive and Exxon gas station located at 312 Virginia Beach Boulevard for $2.8 million, according to a city spokesperson. It’s the second property purchased within the last year as part of the estimated $330-million Atlantic Park development.

The project — which will mainly encompass land that for 36 years leading up to 1994 was home to the Virginia Beach “Dome” — will be anchored by a giant surf park, but also include a nearly 6,000-person indoor-outdoor entertainment venue, retail, restaurants, office space and residential units.

Backed in part by music superstar and Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams, the project is the largest public-private partnership in Virginia Beach history.

The gas station site backs up to the Dominion Energy power substation on 18th Street that was purchased by the city for $3.7 million last year. In that deal, the city will help the Dominion decommission the facility in exchange for $1 million in credits for utility relocation.

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In a presentation to the Resort Advisory Commission Thursday afternoon, Mike Culpepper, who is heading up the private development of the project as a managing partner with Venture Realty Group, said that the purchased land will be the site of 25,000 square feet of “experiential retail.”

Experiential retail is often defined as a brick-and-mortar business that has immersive, interactive, and technology-enhanced elements.

Culpepper said they are currently in talks with a tenant.

Current sketch of the layout of Atlantic Park. (Courtesy: City of Virginia Beach)

Culpepper also revealed new sketches of the project layout that is expected to break ground in spring 2022 and open by summer 2023.

He said he is still confident that having a wave lagoon in a beach atmosphere will successfully boost tourism and better the resort’s image.

“We now have four-wave garden coves open and operating. And what we have learned from those experiences is not only the surf park operational and a lot of fun. It also has produced, more revenue than what is anticipated, more users than what is anticipated and more energy than was anticipated,” Culpepper said.

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