Virginia Beach mayor brokers new path forward for Ashville Park

Villiage D in Ashville Park, circled in blue, will not be undeveloped by HomeFed. Instead, the developer will donate the land to the city for stormwater storage use only, greatly increasing Ashville Park's capacity (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)
Villiage D in Ashville Park, circled in blue, will not be undeveloped by HomeFed. Instead, the developer will donate the land to the city for stormwater storage use only, greatly increasing Ashville Park’s capacity (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Residents of Ashville Park have been waiting years for relief from flooding issues.

After several cost participation options between the city and the developer were brought forth for phase one of the improvements, Mayor Louis Jones brought a surprise deal to the table that could finally bring relief to the neighborhood.

During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Jones announced that he had brokered a modified ordinance regarding a cost participation agreement with the current developer of the Ashville Park neighborhood.

A key aspect of the mayor’s proposal is that the developer agreed to forego building on part of the land in Ashville Park. Instead, the developer, HomeFed Corp., will donate that property to the city for stormwater storage, Jones said.

The agreement would give city “a lot of flexibility.”

City Council voted 9-0 during the formal session in favor of authorizing the city manager to sign the modified cost participation agreement with HomeFed that Jones has brokered.

Deputy City Manager Tom Leahy said the developer donating the land of “Village D” — an undeveloped portion of Ashville Park — for additional stormwater storage ponds “is really a game-changer, something which will provide options that we really haven’t had before” in Ashville Park.

“Ashville is seriously short of storm storage, and this proposal solves that problem,” Leahy said.

Building stormwater ponds on Villiage D will “almost triple” the amount of acreage the city has dedicated for stormwater storage in Ashville Park, Leahy said.

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The downside to this proposal, Leahy noted, is that the city will be responsible for the full $11.1 million worth of improvements for phase one, rather than paying only $8 million with a cost-share from HomeFed.

However, with Jones’s deal, the developer would also donate all rights of way to city, Leahy said. The total number of lots that could be developed would drop from 499 to 455, a reduction of about 8 percent.

Immediate effects of the deal include a culvert that would not be needed and a canal that would be shortened, which would reduce overall costs of phase one improvements. Excavated land could be used for fill on future road projects, Leahy said, which would also save the city money in the long-term

Because the developer will not share cost of improvements in phase one, the city technically does not have enough money budgeted in its capital improvement plan to participate in the proposal.

However, another $4 million becomes available from the city’s CIP on July 1, 2019 “so it’s really just a matter of timing,” Leahy said.

In the short term, the city will move some money around from road construction projects so the work can begin on time.

Construction would begin in April 2019 and end in June 2020, which is an identical construction schedule, Leahy said.

Councilman John Uhrin said “there’s only been a handful of times when a delay in action has created a better solution, and this falls into that category.”

There will be an agenda item for the Aug. 7 City Council meeting to move money from the Shore Drive CIP to Ashville Park to pay for the first phase of improvements.

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