CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Should the City of Chesapeake build its own performing arts and convocation center? A feasibility study has now been funded to find out.
Last week, the Chesapeake Economic Development Authority unanimously approved spending $65,000 for Johnson Consulting to conduct a market feasibility study for a potential “multi-purpose center” at Summit Pointe.
Brian Solis, a deputy city manager for the city, told authority members that there has been a desire among several groups, including Chesapeake Public Schools, to build something equivalent to a performing arts center or convocation center to serve Chesapeake residents and businesses.
One reason CPS is interested is so high school seniors could actually graduate within their city according to Solis. Currently, all graduations for the city’s high schools are held at Chartway Arena at Old Dominion University in Norfolk as Chesapeake lacks an appropriate venue large enough.
“We are Virginia’s second-largest city, but we must send our students somewhere else to graduate,” Solis said.
However one of the reasons for the study is to ensure such an investment wouldn’t cannibalize other similar venues already serving Hampton Roads, including the city’s own Convention Center.
In pitching the idea to authority members, Solis mentioned the Capital One Center in Tysons Corner, Va., the Tobin Center in San Antonio, Texas. and the Saban Center under construction in Tuscaloosa, Ala. as examples of what the city is thinking.
Each of those venues can hold between 1,000 to 1,700 people in theater settings. But Solis said they want to be able to accommodate corporate events as well.
“Can a venue be physically flexible enough to be programmed enough for those types of uses and those types of audiences,” Solis said.
Summit Pointe, a more than $330 million public-private partnership between the city and a company controlled by Dollar Tree, is the location being studied.
Located off Volvo Parkway in the Greenbrier community, Summit Pointe has been billed the future “Downtown Chesapeake.”
Aside from the location of Dollar Tree’s 12-story headquarters, there is more than 1,400 housing units and 500,000 square foot of retail and restaurants. The $33 million 1,500-space parking garage was paid for by the city.
Long-term plans call for future development east towards Executive Parkway. In addition, proposals have been made to make Summit Pointe the terminus of rapid mass transit.
“You have an opportunity to maybe marry (the event space) with a future phase of Summit Pointe and really enhance the impact of what that facility could be,” Solis said. He also mentioned a hotel development could be included.
There is no timeline for the study to be completed, but once it is preliminary recommendations will be made to City Council.