Big step taken as Hampton votes to sell Downtown properties for redevelopment

HAMPTON, Va. - Downtown Hampton may be changing after a vote that happened Wednesday night.

Photo provided by the city of Hampton

City Council voted 7-0 to sell nine Downtown properties for redevelopment.

The proposal for the development of Downtown on several publicly-owned properties is not new. The city said the plan has been in the works with the proposed developers since 2016.

"I think that'll be nice to bring back home to this area because it's a beautiful area. It really is; it just needs to be spruced up," Downtown visitor Onicka Daniel told News 3's Aleah Hordges.

One of the goals of redevelopment is to attract more visitors millennials.

"I know that things normally close about 5 o'clock in this area so I think that; especially for the college students to have something to do in the evenings," Daniel added.

The companies that are in talks with Hampton about this project are WVS Cos. and Saunders + Crouse Architects. Their proposal includes retail shops, office space, apartments or condos with rooftop decks, for-sale townhouses and a casual seafood restaurant, according to the city.

Multi-business owner and president of Downtown Hampton Development Partnership Carlyle Bland said, "We've got all these vacant spaces that aren't being used at all. No utilization out of them so putting residential properties on that is going to be perfect for us."

“The Economic Development Department and Housing Authority staffs have been diligently working with the WVS and Saunders+Crouse team to complete the master development agreement,” said Steven Lynch, interim director of Economic Development. “This future development in downtown will be transformative. The new residential components will generate the critical mass of residences in downtown that are needed to sustain the existing business while bolstering our ability to attract new businesses.”

"Right now, I think there's about 1,500 people living in a two-mile radius and we need to get that up to about 4,500 to get the density that makes a downtown successful," Bland mentioned.

The land would be sold for between $3.3 and $5 million and the city said the developer would pay for all infrastructure improvements, with the exception of a city contribution of $600,000 toward parking.

Many people hope the new additions will enhance what downtown already has to offer, such as the NASA Museum.

It's one of the few places tourists say makes the area special.

"We intended to spend all day here tomorrow because it's over three floors," said Jo Brown. "As a place we didn't know was on the map, I have to say it's just amazing. We definitely want to come back here."

Bland added, "On a Saturday night you have seven different places that have live music all within walking distance so we're selling the convenience, the walkability, all of the things that people say make a great downtown."