Virginia Beach opens bids for a new Oceanfront pier… again

The city restarted the bidding after they rejected two bids in March due to questions about transparency

The Virginia Beach Fishing Pier at 15th Street is currently the only fishing pier at the Oceanfront and has been open every summer since 1952. The owners of the pier — along with other nearby business owners and developer Bruce Thompson — submitted the original proposal for a new pier to the city in 2016 (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
The Virginia Beach Fishing Pier at 15th Street is currently the only fishing pier at the Oceanfront and has been open every summer since 1952. The owners of the pier — along with other nearby business owners, and developer Bruce Thompson — submitted the original proposal for a new pier to the city in 2016 (Southside Daily)

VIRGINIA BEACH — For the second time since February, Virginia Beach City Council members unsealed public bids for leasing city land to construct a pier at the Oceanfront.

Mayor Louis Jones opened the bids during council’s formal session Tuesday afternoon.

These were the bids for the pier this time around; the Virginia Beach Development Authority, which bid on the property the first time; Richard Maddox, on behalf of three Virginia Beach companies (Maddox is a former member of Virginia Beach City Council and owner of the property at 17th Street and Atlantic Avenue at the Oceanfront); and Virginia Beach Pier Place Development, LLC., of which developer Bruce Thompson is a partner.

All three bids were for one dollar a year at 15th Street, except for the Maddox bid, which was for 17th Street.

Jones did not announce the terms of any of the three bids on Tuesday.

Mayor Louis Jones, foreground, opens three thick manila envelopes containing the bids for lease of city property to build a pier at the Oceanfront, as Vice-Mayor Jim Wood observes (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily) Virginia Beach
Mayor Louis Jones, foreground, opens three thick manila envelopes containing the bids for lease of city property to build a pier at the Oceanfront, as Vice-Mayor Jim Wood observes (Southside Daily)

The bids will be eventually placed online — per Councilman John Moss’s request — for the public to review.

The city wants the winning bidder to construct an 880 feet long, multi-level pier that extends from the boardwalk into the Atlantic Ocean, at a taxpayer cost of up to $21.5 million.

Related story: Two bids submitted for pier development at Oceanfront

On Feb. 6, during the first invitation for bids, City Council received two bids for the 40-year land lease required of the pier project — one from the Virginia Beach Development Authority and the other from Wool Service Supply and Logistics. The development authority offered the city rent of $1 a year, while Wool Service offered the city $12,000 a year.

Between February and March, residents voiced concerns about transparency in the bidding process and questioned the need for public funding, while some City Council members raised similar objections.

On March 5, City Auditor Lyndon Remias released an assessment of the two bids.

A man crosses the Virginia Beach boardwalk after an afternoon on the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier at 15th Street. The pier was nearly destroyed by a storm in 1962 and the city now wants to build a new, concrete pier to replace it (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
A man crosses the Virginia Beach boardwalk after an afternoon on the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier at 15th Street. The pier was nearly destroyed by a storm in 1962 and the city now wants to build a new, concrete pier to replace it (Southside Daily)

Although the assessment recommended the city move forward on a lease agreement with the development authority, Remias noted in the assessment that “due to some questions regarding the transparency of the bid process, City Council should also consider opening back up the solicitation process.”

Related story: Pier project terms released, while council still fights for objective bid review

Days later, the city decided to reject both bids and reissue an invitation for bids.

The original pier proposal came unsolicited from a family of property owners around the site of the pier, who withdrew their proposal after the city restarted the bid process.

The new bid solicitation clarified language about the city’s expectations, the role of the development authority, and the possible location of the pier, which can now be built anywhere on the Oceanfront between 5th to 40th streets.

There will be a public hearing on the bid proposals in June.

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