New arts district under development in Portsmouth

Portsmouth has a new Arts District which is expected to attract more visitors but businesses say what it won't attract is more stores and restaurants.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- Portsmouth has a new Arts District which is expected to attract more visitors but businesses say what it won't attract is more stores and restaurants.

The district runs from the waterfront, down High Street, to Elm Street.

There are dozens of businesses that will find themselves in the direct path of increased foot traffic, but they say art can only do so much. They would like the city to start offering tax incentives to entice new businesses.

“If that were to change I think we would see a lot more small businesses and new businesses popping up," said Allen Padilla of 619 Cantina.

Owners say in many cases new businesses just can't afford coming here because the rent is to too high.

“If the city would incent the landlord that owns that building to make it more advantageous economically to have it rented rather that sit empty that’s a win-win," said Nettie Fischer of Little Shoppes on High.

They also point to other cities in the area that do offer these perks.

“What we don’t have is a pool of money to say, 'here we can give you money to help you buy your building or start your lease,'" said Councilwoman Elizabeth Psimas.

Psimas said there are still plenty of reasons to open up here.

“We do have some great incentives for businesses once they get here. We have 50 percent grant funding to help a business redo their store front," said Psimas.

Established businesses say Portsmouth has what it takes to compete with its neighbors.

“We have what many other cities want we already have an old town we don’t have to go out and create a new town," said Fischer.

The city agrees and wants to do all they can to be business friendly.

“We are starting in this years budget in 2018, we the city council, to fund some sort of economic development pot that we can use to lure a business here," said Psimas.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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