Some Portsmouth officials want to move government buildings off the waterfront

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Some Portsmouth city officials want to move the government off the waterfront.

In the City of Portsmouth, the jail, city hall and several other city buildings are on prime real estate, but now there’s an effort to change that.

On Thursday night city officials presented the Crawford Gateway Revitalization Plan, which looks to revitalize sections of Olde Towne Portsmouth, to the public.

“We're excited. We're ready to hit the ground running," said Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe.

The city council recently decided to move forward with a plan to spend $475,000 to study how to utilize their best asset: the waterfront.

City officials said the money was already in the budget.

“I feel like this is one of the most important decisions I've made in my ten years on council. We didn't just plan to plan. We are putting money where our mouth is and now moving forward,” said Vice Mayor Elizabeth Psimas.

Many of the city-owned properties are tax exempt and located on waterfront property.

City officials said they would like to bring in the private sector to build more shops, restaurants and apartments and make the downtown more livable, which means possibly moving the location of some of the city buildings – like city hall and the jail.

“What we are doing right now is assessing the value of what we have, assessing what we need going forward and assessing how we can bring that all together - how can we make this a better city going forward,” said Robert Moore, Director of Economic Development.

City officials said there have been numerous studies on this issue since 1994.

They said there are there are a lot of decisions and issues to consider but say they are optimistic and hopeful.

“We are making our downtown ready for the future,” said Mayor Rowe.