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Mixed reaction over Dome site proposal at public meeting

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s still unclear how much taxpayer money will be invested into the revitalization of the former Dome site, but the developer says the project won’t happen without the city’s support.

Donna MacMillan-Whitaker, a managing partner with Venture Realty Group, says the company is relying on the city to develop a plan for parking.

Ron Williams, deputy city manager, says parking and other terms with the developer are currently being reviewed. The first draft of those terms will likely be released in May, he said.

“There will be infrastructure and parking that we know are realistic, reasonable investments for the public,” said Williams, who also mentioned street improvements to the area could be covered by the city.

On Wednesday, about 150 people showed up to give their two cents about the $300 million proposal that would transform 18th, 19th and 20th streets between Pacific and Arctic.

The 10-acre lot has served as a city parking lot since The Dome was demolished in 1994.

Shops, restaurants, office space, housing, retail, a surf park and a 3,500 seat music venue are all part of Venture Realty’s vision.

The two-acre surf park, which MacMillan says is not a wave pool, is the centerpiece of the development that targets amateurs to professional surfers.

“This is a dream come true for a lot of folks,” said Chase Pittman, a surfer from Virginia Beach, who wants the park to be built with surfers in mind. “I want to have a warranty on this thing. I want to make sure we have folks in place to actually maintain it and operate on it.”

While some residents raised concerns about a surf park just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, surfers argue the waves in Virginia Beach are often not as good as places like the Outer Banks.

“That’s world class surf,” said Miki Nietes. “To have something that can compete here without having to make that drive and be closer to an airport, I guess it can bring travelers.”

Still, Barbara Messner showed up with a sign and passed out paperwork opposing any partnership between the city and a developer.

“I’m sick and tired of tourism, all of our money going to private developers,” she said.

The city has launched an online survey, which will be available until at least Feb. 14. So far, more than 1,200 people have submitted feedback.publicinput.com/domesiteproject

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