To Someone with No Skin in the Game, Virginia Beach Entertainment District Sounds Great!

Rendering of proposed new Virginia Beach pier. Image credit: Virginian-Pilot

The City of Virginia Beach is creating a special use entertainment district on the beachfront. There are three main components to the plan: a sports center, a redevelopment project, and a new pier. Developers are getting in on the action. One has submitted a proposal for a double-decker pier with retail and restaurants on one level and fishing on another. If the imaginative artist’s rendering is any indication, the project even could include a skywheel.

A  surf park also has been proposed for the project, which has won the backing from the powerful surf shop lobby. Seven surf shops from Wave Riding Vehicles to Pungo Board House and Whalebone Junction have banded together in a first-time-ever show of support for a development project.

But details have yet to be determined, and the city is soliciting input from citizens on what they’d like to see. Public parking? Fishing from the pier? Bicycle parking? Ride share pick-up/drop-off zone? How about a skywheel or a surfing museum? Fishing contests? Fireworks? Music concerts? Dog water station? (Dog water station? What’s that?)

The more the merrier, I say! As a periodic visitor to Virginia Beach, I’m all in favor of the idea. Virginia Beach is getting a little long in the tooth — nothing much new since the erection of the King Neptune statue — and it could use a big new tourist attraction. I’m tired of taking five-hour drives to Emerald Isle, N.C. My summer vacation dollars are definitely up for grabs.

Best of all from my perspective as a Henrico County resident with absolutely no skin in the game, it looks like Virginia Beach is undewriting the development in a big way, which means the citizens of Virginia Beach would be subsidizing my vacation. The city alludes to those subsidies only briefly in its questionnaire asking for citizen input:

The City is considering using Tourism Investment Program funds, made up mostly of tourism-related taxes and fees like hotel taxes, portions of the restaurant taxes and rental fees, to fund the development of two other projects and parking to support the district.

But WVEC Television lays bare the public commitment:

  • The sports center is set to cost $55 million in public funding
  • The old Dome site project is set to cost $37.5 million in public funding, potentially leveraging more than $200 million in private investment
  • Redeveloping the pier on 15th Street is set to cost $21.5 million in public funding, potentially leveraging more than $200 million in private investment
  • Public funds will also go toward parking facilities and improvements to 18th & 19th streets

I won’t be staying in a hotel — I’ll just bunk in at the family place in Sandbridge — so I don’t expect to pay any lodging taxes. As for restaurant taxes, well, I guess I’ll share those with the good citizens of Virginia Beach, who patronize Virginia Beach restaurants more than I ever will. It all sounds good to me!

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3 responses to “To Someone with No Skin in the Game, Virginia Beach Entertainment District Sounds Great!”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    sorta looks like VB funds it’s tourism economy from taxes on tourists, no?

    Might be interesting to compare money “invested” and taxes collected..

    Does VB actually net any money for tourism or are they really subsidizing it?

    as far as “lodging taxes”.. my bet is that real estate rates in Sandbridge more than compensate for “lodging taxes”… someone in the Bacon clan pays those taxes or perhaps the Bacon Clan rents their “lodging” out when available to bring in enough to pay for all that stuff… except of course the taxpayer subsidized flood insurance!!!

  2. djrippert Avatar

    Finally! Some vision from a Virginia locality. God knows there will never be any vision from our state government.

    What’s missing?

    A look at other similar places. Their good ideas should be “stolen with pride”. Navy Pier in Chicago, Beale St in Memphis, the French Quarter in New Orleans, downtown Louisville, Sauslito, CA, etc.

    Hit the road, Jack. And don’t ya come back ’til you know more, know more, know more.

  3. Looks nice, but next Nor’Easter what happens to the development?

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