VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach City Council wants to hear from residents to get their thoughts on the plans put forward to redevelop Rudee Loop.
City Council gave the go-ahead to city staff on Tuesday to shop around the three proposals submitted by development teams. It was also revealed there was a fourth proposal for the land submitted by the city’s own parks and recreation department.
“That’s what really important. What the public has to say,” said Vice Mayor Rosemary Wilson. “This is their property.”
The move marks a significant step forward for a major project that has been contemplated for a long time.
The majority of the proposals would turn the nearly 11-acre piece of land at the south end of the Oceanfront into a waterfront park with a new parking garage. Rudee Loop was identified as the top priority for green space in a public survey and a resort planning document. Several council members have been outspoken also in their desire to see the space turned into a park.
However, NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, who has submitted three different proposals for Rudee Loop in the last decade, is calling for a mixed-use development with three hotels and a four-acre park
“Three really interesting proposals. But a broad range of development options,” Taylor Adams, a deputy city manager, and the city’s economic development director, said following a briefing Tuesday.
The majority of the property has been in city control since 2004, when nearly $7 million was spent to buy the property of longtime Lighthouse Restaurant. Several other private homes, the Beach Quarters Inn and an amusement area were the most recent other uses on the parcels.
At the time of those purchases, City Council documents stated the property was “a prime location for a flagship hotel chain to aid in the development of a convention facility at the Oceanfront.”
However Adams said with the strong push for a park, Parks and Recreation also came up with a plan. It calls for a skate park, food truck court, water fountains, a new fishing pier along the inlet, and possible parking garage development.
Adams doesn’t know how much any of the proposals will cost at this point. He said that wouldn’t come until more serious negotiations start with developers.
“I think its better to get it right than to get it fast,” Adams said.
Adams said the same applies to a proposal submitted by Washington D.C.-based Capstone Development.
In response to a Request for Information the city put out, they responded saying they would like to build a 300-room hotel, with 930 residential units as well as restaurants, retail and parking space across 19th Street from the Convention Center.
The city would own and operate the parking garages and continue to own the land, according to a presentation obtained by 10 On Your Side.
Public-private partnerships within the city have often turned divisive, over the clashing of different personalities and accusations of favoritism.
After a previous proposal by Smith for Rudee Loop failed to gain support in 2014, Smith — who is Black — called for the launch of a disparity study, claiming his development proposals were being excluded on the basis of race.
“Really encouraging to see our City Council actively work to engage the public to truly understand what the communities will on these projects might be,” Adams said.
View the proposals for Rudee Loop and Convention Center property in their entirety below.