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Virginia Beach City Council approves Dome site plan

A developer wants to turn the empty lot between 18th and 20th Streets by the Oceanfront into a surf park and entertainment venue. It's been vacant for 25 years.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — On Tuesday, Virginia Beach City Council approved the Dome site development agreement.

The project was approved in a 10-0 vote. Councilman John Moss abstained from the vote due to a conflict of interest.

The $325 million project plans to replace the vacant lot between 18th and 20th Streets near the Oceanfront. The vision is to transform that space into a year-round tourist destination in the form of a surf park and entertainment venue.

Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson said there have been "missed opportunities" through the years for the site. Councilman Jim Wood said this project is unique and exciting.

City officials estimate the park will generate about $8 million a year. That money will go back into schools, the general fund, and the tourism fund.

Councilwoman Jessica Abbott proposed a resolution of her own that would appropriate 25% of the revenue from the project to stormwater management.

Developer Venture Realty Group and the city presented their agreement terms a few weeks ago. 

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Last Tuesday, the public weighed in. 

Virginia Beach native and music superstar Pharrell Williams spoke first. The surf park idea was his brainchild.

"If we want people to take us seriously, they have to see that we are doing what we have been doing, which is looking after our community, looking after our minorities, showing people that we are open for business," Williams said. "The Dome site is the perfect, first and foremost example."

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The empty lot has come to symbolize untapped potential for the last quarter-century. the 10-acre site was, at one time, home to the Virginia Beach Civic Center, aka The Dome.  The iconic building had been a popular concert venue but was demolished in 1994.

In the 25 years since nothing has replaced it.

Venture Realty's vision is to build a 3,500-person entertainment venue, which includes restaurants, apartments, and a surf park.

The entire project is estimated to cost about $325 million, with $230 million coming from private investment and $95 million from the city's tourism investment fund.

Now that it's approved, the plan is that construction for the project will take place over two years during three phases. You can learn more about the project on the City of Virginia Beach's website.

RELATED: Developer briefs Virginia Beach City Council on Dome site development terms