December 2014 message and meeting info

The December 2014 Wards Corner Civic League meeting will be held on the 15th at 6:45pm at the Fitness and Wellness Center on Newport Ave.

The agenda includes a follow-up on the Collins Enterprise Development and Robert Hitchins will talk on a Piece of Norfolk History.

The president’s message:

Holiday Greetings to all. The holiday season is once again upon us. It is a time for great anticipation, reflection and joy as all of us celebrate our respective traditions and religions. It is also a time that we need to reflect on those in our community, city, nation and world who may not be celebrating a joyful season and reach out to them when and if we can do so. Helping those who are in need or are shut-in is perhaps the best gift we can give them. We should be thinking of those still fighting a war in the far away Middle East and being thankful for those returning home. As we gather with our own families this holiday season, let us not forget that there are those folks out there who may not be able to celebrate. They need our thoughts and prayers. A simple smile, “hello” or “can I help you?” goes a long way to show them that someone cares. Let us also pray for all of our City, State and National leaders that they can make sensible and responsible decisions for all of the residents of Norfolk, Virginia and the United States in the coming year.

As indicated in the minutes of our last meeting, Collins Enterprises is seeking our approval for their development project on Newport Ave. at the Riverview Terrace apartment complex. Mr. Collins’ representatives made a presentation about their plans at that meeting. While what they presented was indeed better than his plans several years ago, it was missing a big piece of that development project – the apartment complex. When Mr. Collins met with us several years ago he presented a complex that was to be condominiums. Well, the real estate market went south and he changed his complex from condominiums to apartments without our approval. We clearly voted that we did not want that and while Mr. Collins said one thing he would not commit to any of our recommendations on paper. After several meetings at that time, we were frustrated with his proposals and he with us. Hence he dropped the project at that time and continued to manage the existing apartments.

Now he has come back with a condominium, townhouse, and apartment complex proposal. While it is fairly clear what he will do with the first of those two options he has not presented his plans for the apartments. He has included several complex amenities in this plan which are nice and what we originally wanted. Let me be clear- while this is an improved development proposal, it is by no means ready for our approval. At our last meeting those present raised several concerns about what he plans for the apartment part of the complex which was not clearly outlined at that time.

As a result of those concerns, Martin Thomas Jr. and I met with his local architect Mel Price to discuss our concerns and find out how they plan to address them. It was a good meeting and we were assured that they would be addressed pending Mr. Collins approval. Martin and I also went to the Talbot Park civic league meeting last week and heard the same presentation. That group raised similar concerns to ours at that time.
As it stands right now they will come back to us at the January meeting with a revised plan for us to consider. So that we all understand the process, this development project must be approved by us BEFORE it can go back to the Planning Commission for reconsideration.

Here is what is being considered by the Architect at this time.

  • Tie the text amendment to the revised site plan
  • Include in the text amendment the following:
    • Phase I of Westport commons will include the first 12 townhomes, clubhouse, swimming pool, pier, tree-lined road to the clubhouse, and parking and infrastructure required to service the Phase I buildings (we will identify these on site plan)
    • The apartments, townhomes, condos will not receive a COA until the following amenities are completed: clubhouse, swimming pool, pierNo vinyl siding will be used on any project on the property (townhomes, condos, or apartments)
    • Identify materials that will be used on the building exteriors
    • Identify traffic-calming bump-outs
  • Include the following in the revised site plan and apartment elevations:
    • The design of the parking lot for the apartments will be modified so that the number of parking spaces is maintained, but so that the appearance of one expansive parking lot is diminished by additional landscaping
    • The design of the apartments will be adjusted slightly so as to better address Newport Avenue as its front yard. Some ideas include:
      • Elimination of the brick piers and aluminum fence
      • Addition of features (porches, balconies, or stairs) that enhance the appearance of the apartments (especially the first floor) and make a better connection with the street and enhance the pedestrian experience
      • Modification of the front façade (the above ideas will help) to reduce the “appearance of” the height of the apartment buildings fronting Newport Avenue

My request of you is this. Please read the above proposals and either let me know via email what you think or bring your questions and comments to the January meeting when Collins Enterprises makes its second presentation. In addition please go to WardsCornerNow.com and read more of the entire project. There is a lot of info and pictures about the
planned development of this area for you to see and read.

Please enjoy our newsletter and we hope to see you at the December Civic League meeting.

Finally from my family to yours please have a safe and enjoyable holiday season with the best of wishes for a prosperous New Year.
Thanks

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