Housing development plans target Berkley in Norfolk

Full article courtesy of Virginia Pilot –

Two companies are working on plans for residential developments in Berkley, a small part of Norfolk that’s separated from the rest of the city by the Elizabeth River.

If the multifamily projects are built, they’ll be the first in years for the south side of the city, which sits across the Campostella Bridge from the rest of Norfolk and at the east end of the Downtown Tunnel from Portsmouth.

Chuck Rigney, acting director of Norfolk’s department of development, discussed plans for the projects with more than two dozen residents during a recent meeting of the Southside Task Force.

One of the proposed projects would be built on a 9-acre parcel where a lumberyard used to operate. The site, at 1050 Berkley Ave. Ext., would include about 150 apartment units surrounded by 25 single-family homes that would provide a transition to the existing neighborhood, Rigney said.

The Franklin Johnston Group, formed recently when several employees split away from S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co., is reviewing a contract to buy the land from the city, Rigney said. If the deal is approved, the developers would pay $2.5 million for the site and then invest $18 million to $20 million in the project.

Separately, The Woda Group LLC is hoping to build a $6 million multiuse development at 701 S. Main St., across from the Farm Fresh shopping center.

The four-story building would include retail space on the bottom floor and about 50 two- and three-bedroom apartment units above.

Bruce Watts, a consultant representing Woda, told residents at the task force meeting that a health care provider is in negotiations with the developers to set up a clinic on the bottom floor.

The building would include covered parking on the ground floor, a community center, elevators and a garden space where residents could plant vegetables.

The average rent would be about $850 per month, and some of the units would be marketed to seniors, Watts said.

Roscoe Callaway, president of the Southside Coalition, said the community wants to ensure that the developers maintain the buildings.

“We are hoping to get good neighbors and not create another low-income area,” Callaway said. “We don’t want someone coming in and building and not doing their part in management.”

Residents also hope both complexes will have amenities the public can use.

Rigney credited Norfolk City Council members Paul Riddick and Angelia Williams with pushing for quality development on the south side of the city. He said he hopes new residential housing will attract commercial development.

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