Portsmouth City Hall could move to make way for waterfront development

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth City Hall could be moving. 

This is what Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe heard from City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton last Tuesday, “She had received an unsolicited proposal from Armada Hoffler to build a new Portsmouth City Hall,” Rowe said. 

The Crawford Gateway Revitalization is designed to move City Hall, the Portsmouth Police Department headquarters and eventually the jail off the Elizabeth River waterfront.

Rowe adds, “If they build a new city hall, that frees up the current site for some type of development that Armada Hoffler may or may not do.”

Portsmouth is also taking advantage of the sub-sea fiber data cables from Spain and eventually from South America and South Africa. 

Those cables are hooking in with the regional interconnected high speed fiber network on the Southside, which will also go to the Peninsula. 

Portsmouth will eventually hook in with the system, which will create more high paying jobs. 

Businesses at the ODU Tri-Cities Center will certainly benefit from the fiber network. 

Dr. Johnny Garcia is president and CEO at SimIS, which stands for simulation and information security. 

SimIS was also the Small Business of the Year for Portsmouth and then Hampton Roads. 

“When we can connect to these research centers all around the globe and across the country to conduct and have that throughput for the research that is required to do the work here in Portsmouth,” Garcia said. 

Throughput is the sum of the data rates that are delivered to all terminals in a network.

Garcia scaled up his company in the last year from 30 to 100 jobs.  That certainly was a consideration to give him Small Business of the Year.

Scaling up companies from existing ones is the easiest way to greatly increase jobs in a region. SimIS’ average salary is $80,000.

10 On Your Side interviewed Garcia in an empty field next to his office. 

This is key — that new field will be home to a new data center, which is key to more high paying jobs and diversification.

Garcia is passionate about creating job growth because it is the future of Hampton Roads.

“What we need to be able to do as part of all these new jobs being created is diversification. How we do that is all these new jobs look at how we identify these young men and women that are graduating from local universities to actually have jobs here in the Hampton Roads area and not losing them to Richmond or Northern Virginia.  So this data center is key to us doing that right here in Portsmouth.”

Here’s why that’s important:

The city reports that Portsmouth has 1,600 businesses.

1,000 of them have 20 employees or less, and about 500 of those have four employees or less.

10 On Your Side asked Robert Moore about that. He is Portsmouth’s director of economic development. 

“So obviously we are focused here in Portsmouth. Portsmouth needs to be helping those businesses expand, and have access to this new fiber and this new connectivity.”

Connectivity connecting all localities to all the information and technology. 

Hampton Roads is positioning to be a major hub or port of information and technology, and it is hoped the payoff for that will be our greatest achievement ever. 

Some other things 10 On Your Side learned today:

“We are blessed to have the Breeden Company one of the foremost residential builders in Virginia,” said Mayor Rowe. 

They have already done two projects in the city, including Harbor Vista across from City Hall.  Rowe says all 134 units are leased. 

A new project is called North Pier. 

“Breeden is under contract to develop the property for residential apartments that is next to the Pavilion,” Rowe says. “This will get people downtown because people are moving back to urban settings, and we are well positioned for that.”

10 On Your Side was told there is a building across the street from City Hall that was a police department building, that is now empty and under contract for 80 new luxury apartment homes. 

This is under contract by a new developer to Portsmouth.  Rowe indicates Portsmouth is catching the eye of developers. 

There is also a massive track of land on McClean Street that a source confirms will be developed by a major home construction company.  They will construct townhomes and single family homes.

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