Portsmouth residents, sheriff express concerns over waterfront development

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth could be freeing up some waterfront property.

WAVY’s told you about a plan that would move city hall and other city buildings to make way for other development.

This would transfer city hall, which is now on Crawford Street, to where the County Street parking garage now stands.

On Tuesday, the people of Portsmouth got to weigh in on the plan and the majority said they had concerns about the proposal.

One of those with concerns was the Portsmouth sheriff. 

High rise apartments, restaurants and room for entertainment — that’s the vision that Portsmouth city leaders have for the future of the waterfront.

“Everybody in the community wants to see a vibrant downtown. It will make downtown a happening place,” said Mayor John Rowe.

Bringing this vision to life means out with the old and in with the new. The city is in talks with developer Armada Hoffler to possibly build new a city hall and public safety building. 

Rowe said this will free up valuable waterfront property.

“44 percent of all of our land is non-taxable because it’s either owned by the government or a non-profit,” he said. “This is expanding our tax base.”

However, one building not mentioned in the proposal is the Portsmouth jail. 

Portsmouth Sheriff Michael Moore addressed city leaders and said he has concerns over the proposal.

“To sit down and have to read about it in the paper or see it on the news what the plan is, is very, very disheartening,” Moore said. “Since we weren’t included in that developmental plan, we can only assume that the plan is to shut down the jail.”

Moore said he also has a lot of questions about what could potentially happen. 

“I’m hoping to meet with the mayor and the council in the next coming weeks and we can hash this thing out,” he said.

Several others spoke, some saying they want more answers before moving forward.

“It seems counterproductive to plant city resources or city services right across the street,” one resident said. “If you’re building it across the street, you’re still building it on this waterfront.”

“Just look very closely at the final decisions that you make and don’t get us in a mess,” said another resident.

The vote means the city and Armada Hoffler will work together over the next several months to come up with an agreement that will include the size of the project, cost, timelines and how much money will be invested.

We’ll keep following this for you and let you know what happens next.

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