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Developer withdraws proposal to build apartments at current Portsmouth City Hall site

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Developer Armada Hoffler formally withdrew its proposal Tuesday night to build apartments at the current Portsmouth City Hall site.

Portsmouth City Councilman Bill Moody posted the letter from Armada Hoffler Executive Vice President and Head of Development Bernard Shumate on his Facebook page. In the letter, Shumate cited recent controversy at meetings as the reason for the withdrawal from the partnership.

"We believe that both Partners in a Public Private Partnership need to be fully committed in order to achieve success. The recent City Council Work Session and subsequent commentary indicates that our partnership is seen as controversial by some members of council and other city personnel," the letter reads.

"Our expectation was that taking this step in fulfilling your published vision would be celebrated by the City of Portsmouth and embraced by the leadership. However, it is clear that our proposal and your preliminary acceptance of same has led to controversy and division. Given these circumstances it would not be prudent for either of us to proceed with consideration of the project at this time."

Ideas for the future of Portsmouth's waterfront area included relocating the Public Safety Building and City Hall off of the waterfront area and to new locations. Armada Hoffler would have built apartments on the water.

Moody said he was disappointed, but not completely surprised. "I kind of put myself in their position that I wouldn't want to be investing in something that right out of the gate is very controversial," he said.

Moody said the city will have to look at repairing City Hall to keep it in use, but city leaders are not giving up redeveloping the area. "We’re not going to look in the rear view mirror," he said. "We’re going to look forward and look for new opportunities."

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