Virginia Beach council to defer Old Beach Village vote after complaints

Rendering of Old Beach Village 2 (Courtesy of the city of Virginia Beach)
Rendering of Old Beach Village 2 (Courtesy of the city of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The City Council is expected to delay a vote scheduled for next week on incentives for the Old Beach Village expansion project, according to Councilman Ben Davenport.

The move comes one day after board members of the complex’s condo association emailed the City Council with concerns that the project could devalue their lofts and bottleneck their driveway — all by their own tax dollars.

The emails stand in contrast to what the project’s developer, Jack Pope, told the council on Tuesday at a public hearing. Pope, of Hampton Roads Housing Company, said then that he had met with the association and described the group as supportive of the expansion.

His company plans to partner with the Ainslie Group to construct an additional 320 apartments, a rooftop pool, a fitness studio and a sky bridge at the 64-unit condominium complex at Baltic Avenue between 29th and 30th streets. Pope has requested the city help fund the $60 million expansion, called Old Beach Village 2. The proposal is for developers to keep half of the real estate tax generated by the complex over the next 20 years; that amount would be capped at $6 million.

Pat Heckel, a board member of the Old Beach Village Condominium Association, said in her email to council members that she is “very concerned for many reasons” about the plans. She said she would have attended the public hearing on Tuesday had she known about it. She asked that the vote scheduled for next week be delayed.

Robin Tuite, another board member, said in an email to council members that she had just learned about the project two days earlier and was “stunned” the city would allow such high-density with the proposed apartments.

“We are concerned about the harm this project will have on our quality of life and value of our homes,” she wrote. “We ask that this vote be delayed so more research can be done to find a solution for development of this property.”

Pope did not immediately return messages Thursday seeking comment.

“I have some serious concerns with this email,” Davenport wrote in an email Thursday to other council members in reference to Heckel’s message. “During Mr. Pope’s comments on Dec. 1, 2015 he stated that he had full support from the Old Beach Village Condo Association. That doesn’t appear to be the case.”

Reached by phone Thursday, Davenport said the council has decided to defer the vote that was scheduled for Dec. 8 to approve incentives for the project.

He isn’t the only council member with concerns.

Councilman John Moss rebuked the project at the public hearing this week, saying staff did not due its due diligence and that the item was rushed. The project was presented to council Nov. 24, two days before Thanksgiving and two weeks before a vote was planned to be held.

“This thing has not received the public scrutiny that it deserves,” Moss said.

Residents purchased condos in Old Beach Village for prices ranging between $200,000 and $600,000, according to land records maintained by the city. Heckel said in an interview Thursday that those values could plummet if the city approves the new project.

The agreement for the proposed incentive includes a requirement that 20 percent of the households in the new units make less than the city’s median income. That figure is $62,998, according to Virginia Beach’s economic development website.

Heckel believes that requirement will both devalue her condo and change the demographic around her from homeowners to renters with children, which was not what she was promised when she bought her home. She also said plans call for all of the neighbors to share one gated driveway and predicted the number of new tenants would make it difficult to get in and out.

One of her final concerns? Her tax money would help pay for it, she said.

 

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