Plans revealed for Pier Development Project amid concerns

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A chance to get a closer look at a big project to boost Oceanfront tourism happened Thursday afternoon and there were a lot of questions.

The Resort Advisory Commission and the public listened to developers talk about plans to redevelop the current pier on 14th Street. The proposed pier is expected to cost $21.5 million and will be 800 feet long.

Developers said they want to stimulate new development toward the southern end of the resort strip with the pier, a huge ferris wheel, new restaurants, retail space, surfing hall of fame, exhibition and meeting space along with a park or plaza. The pier will be free with the exception of perhaps a fishing area. There are plans to build an upscale hotel overlooking the pier with bigger hotel rooms.

However, during the public comment section of the meeting, a few voiced their opinion about why a study hasn't been done on the numbers and how building the pier would affect nearby restaurants and businesses already at the Oceanfront. A current surf shop owner said the pier would be competing with people the city is already collecting tax from.

The project has already been met with concerns from the public and two city council members about whether or not the bidding process for the multi-million dollar project has been fair.

"It looks like the bid was rigged from day one to favor one developer. From the development authority and from the city. It's just not right," said Richard Kowalewitch, who is a former business owner.

Meetings to allow for more public comment will be held later in March. A vote is tentatively set for April.

Related:

Two Virginia Beach city council members want committee to review bids of Oceanfront pier project 

Virginia Beach to hold pier development meeting on January 16