Norfolk, VA – Redeveloping Wards Corner
Asking the opinions of residents and local businesspeople is always a good idea when community improvements are being considered. That’s what happened on February 7, 2018, when locals came together with Norfolk council members and other planners to talk about Wards Corner.
Once a vital business district, decades of abandonment and neglect had caused Wards Corner to become an eyesore and an unsafe area. However, a new development plan has grown out of one drafted in 2004. The original plan focused on rejuvenating the area, which prompted the development of the Harris Teeter Shopping Center as well as the Norfolk Wellness and Fitness Center.
Wards Corner used to be a popular destination, and the City of Norfolk believes it can be again. The ideas that were presented to locals for consideration on February 7 involve a 20-year redevelopment plan. Norfolk’s population and income growth have been encouraging points in terms of the revitalization outlook for Wards Corner, as well as its location in being on higher ground that is not susceptible to flooding.
However, there are issues to overcome. For one thing, the City doesn’t own the land; there are individual property owners. However, the owners appear to be interested in revitalization and are attending redevelopment meetings to learn more. Residents and business people are also focused on safety; a pedestrian-friendly, bike-accessible environment; landscape beautification and more businesses, including restaurants. Most of all, they want to see positive changes happen sooner rather than later in Wards Corner. City representatives say a plan based on the ideas discussed at the February 7 meeting is expected to be available by October.