VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — On Tuesday, Virginia Beach City Council, and possibly the public, will learn how much it will cost to buy the Schooner Inn at the Oceanfront.

The city’s interest in purchasing the 50-year-old hotel and less than an acre of land it sits on has never been formally announced. But for months, council members, the business community and community members alike haven’t been shy about discussing the possibility of a purchase.

The city is looking to make progress on a decades long effort to redevelop Rudee Loop and taking over the Schooner property would only give them more land to work with.

City Council will be briefed by Deputy City Manager Taylor Adams in a closed session this afternoon. A possible vote could come next week.

The 89-room, six-floor hotel is currently owned by the Yoder family and according to Councilman Linwood Branch, they have been looking to sell.

Branch said not unlike the deal that led to the city to buy the former The Lighthouse Restaurant property on Rudee Loop, the Yoders have offered the city the first option to purchase the hotel.

Branch is in favor of accepting the Yoders’ offer and then doing away with the hotel. He is supporting efforts to turn Rudee Loop into a park.

“If the City were to purchase that site, it would open up additional beachfront open space and allow the surfing area to expand in front of that site where it is currently not allowed because there’s a hotel there,” Branch said in a Facebook post in late October. “The purchase of that hotel would also change how we configure the site because we wouldn’t need road access to the hotel, which would allow even more open space opportunities.”

Vice Mayor Rosemary Wilson agrees with Branch.

“We want it to be part of a park,” Wilson said.

However at what price?

The city already owns more than six acres at the south end of the Oceanfront and has billed it “as one of the more desirable undeveloped land on the eastern seaboard.” Rudee Loop was identified as the top priority for green space in a public survey and a resort planning document. 

In the spring, the city put out the call for developers to submit their ideas. The city received four proposals, and the majority include plans for a waterfront park with a new parking garage.

While no purchase price has been officially released, the city manager’s three-month tentative schedule lists an ordinance to appropriate $17.6 million from the Tourism Investment Program (TIP) for the “acquisition of certain property” on December 13.

Wilson said she has yet to be briefed about the price, but said higher offers have been made. The city has assessed the property at $8.1 million.

Wilson said the public could learn of the proposal Tuesday night following closed session, something not normal for City Council.

Typically, proposals of this type are topics of discussion over the course of three separate meeting days. A public briefing will occur during a work session. Next, a public hearing will occur at the next scheduled formal session. Finally, a vote will occur the following formal session. At a minimum, the proposal will be public for five weeks.

When asked why this process may play out in only one week’s time. Wilson simply said “there are other pending offers. We have to act.”

However, December 13 happens to also be the last date the current City Council will meet. Beginning in January, five new members will join. It’s unknown how they would vote on the proposal.

The move is expected to be met with controversy. NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, who has submitted three different proposals for Rudee Loop in the last decade, is already accusing the majority of city leadership of “cronyism” in the whole deal.

Smith has been at odds with Gold Key PHR CEO Bruce Thompson for years over how public-private partnerships at the Oceanfront operate. In one of the proposals for Rudee Loop submitted by Thompson, he calls for the demolition of the Schooner Inn to make way for development of a new hotel.

Smith said he didn’t include the Schooner Inn property in his proposal, as it wasn’t land the city included in its request for ideas.

“That’s not going to fly,” Wilson said of Thompson’s proposal. “My vote will require restrictions for a park on that property.”