Developers show interest in former Dome site

13News Now Ali Weatherton has the story

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- We could learn what will become of valuable property at the Oceanfront.

Deputy City Manager Ron Williams will present an overview of the "Central Beach Entertainment District" to city council on Tuesday afternoon.

This is the area around the old Dome site and the proposed arena.

The presentation included an overview of three unsolicited proposals from developers interested in redeveloping the old dome site. Some of their proposals called for a 3,500-seat theater, retail, and year-round programming to attract new visitors.

"They were unsolicited, and so it showed that there was interest from the market. Now we want to formalize the process. We want to be transparent and make sure there's opportunity for anyone to submit, and we want it to be competitive," Williams said.

The City's Development Authority will request additional proposers to submit their qualifications through a Request for Qualifications. The deadline to submit the RFQ will be sometime in April. The City will then put together a panel to vet interested companies. Developers selected during that process will then be asked to submit proposals.

The city has been trying to develop the nearly 10-acre site that formerly housed the Dome, which has been vacant since the building's demolishment in 1994. 

The "Central Beach Entertainment District" plan also includes the ongoing process to build a sports arena.

Developer United States Management has until March 7 to secure enough money for the 18,000 seat venue. The City is also looking to build a hotel near the Convention Center in hopes of attracting more conventions.

"We did an analysis through the Convention Visitor's Bureau, and we really see that there is future demand. That is a needed component that has been identified time and time again over the past decade-- because we do miss conventions that go past our market because we don't have that asset," Williams said.

A possible field house could also be in the works. A few city council members expressed concern over the need for another field house in the area, but Williams says the new field house would primarily be used to attract traveling sports teams, not league teams.

Longtime oceanfront residents like Chip Derr are excited about the impact of these new developments, but with more activity coming to the area, he's worried about safety.

"The police chief had asked for 58 new officers to be in place before the arena was built, and he was denied. I wouldn't feel safe because of the increase of crime," he said.

Also the owner of a local surf shop, LG Shaw since he's heard plans to re-build the old dome site since he was a kid. If it actually happens, he hopes the oceanfront keeps the homegrown feel.

"Growing in that authentic way and letting independent business find their way. If the old dome site could do that, which would be awesome,” said Shaw.

Officials say they understand that's a concern, but the City knows how to handle large crowds, and a public safety plan for the arena is already in place.

Capital improvement projects are in the works for Vibe, which is the oceanfront's arts district. New streetscapes and improvement of underground utilities are in the works at 17 St., 18 St., 19 St., and Parks Ave. 

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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