PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — John Rowe delivered his third State of the City address as Portsmouth’s mayor on Friday.
Rowe’s speech came hours after he and Gov. Ralph Northam announced Preferred Freezer Services will invest $60 million to build a 200,000-square-foot cold storage warehouse at the former BASF site.
“The site’s access to the Port is unmatched, and our business-friendly environment will support the company’s timeline to get up and running,” Rowe said in a statement Friday. “This is a wonderful example of how the Commonwealth, our City and regional teams can work together to create jobs and to expand our economy.”
At the State of the City address, Rowe said things in Portmsouth are going well. He said, “The state of the City in Portsmouth is excellent.”
Rowe says there is economic growth and redevelopment. Other city leaders agree.
“We may not have a lot of land that other cities do, but just today, redevelopment of that BASF site that’s been vacant for more than a decade, that’s huge,” said Portsmouth City Councilwoman Elizabeth Psimas. “I’ve been on city council a long time and it’s a really bright time in the city right now.”
Rowe also discussed the potential casino, medical marijunana dispensary that’s set to open in November 2019 and bring new jobs, plus a new home for City Hall.
“We have the Crawford Gateway revilalization, we have the big business that’s started today, we have the Armada Hoffler, we have the cannabis, there’s so much that’s going on in Portsmouth,” said City Manager Dr. L. Pettis Patton. “There’s nothing affecting the city of Portsmouth. The city is on a trajectory of moving forward and that’s what we do.”
Rowe emphasized the city’s desire to become a “smart city.” That means more accessibility, more jobs, and more development because of technology. He says Hampton Roads cities are working together to build a fiber optic ring around the region. In Portsmouth, there are plans to build a ring around the city.
“We’re going to build an internal fiber ring inside Portsmouth that will be 55 miles in circumference. It’s already been engineered and designed,” Rowe said. “The speeds on our cable, our fiber, on the low end, will be 20x faster than the fastest internet provider in Hampton Roads today.”
He says the timeline on that project is 12-18 months.