Virginia Beach Is Coming Around

City officials in Virginia Beach, where scattered, disconnected development has long epitomized everything wrong with suburban sprawl, shows signs that they really get it. On Monday, reports the Virginian-Pilot, the city Planning Commission will hear a proposal for more mixed-use, higher-density housing along Virginia Beach Boulevard.

A voluntary program would allow developers to build “workforce” housing for less affluent families in exchange for density bonuses. Planners anticipate more development like the successful, mixed-use, high density development at Town Center. (See “Extreme Makeover” for a description of the development there.)

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8 responses to “Virginia Beach Is Coming Around”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I had one thought… yes .. just one.. this time

    let’s assume for the purposes of discussion that developers are not evil, greedy feckless pursuers of money for money sake….

    and think of them as providing a vital service in response to a market demand.

    I’ve always wondered… if there is such a BIG demand for affordable housing… why is that need not met?

    The market provides cheap cars at the same time it provides Cadillac Escalades…

    In other words…the car market has a wide diversity of offerings … to meet the markeplace demands…

    Money CAN be made EVEN in econbox autos…

    and we don’t have to “encourage” the automakers to provide “affordable cars”… so what gives?

    Is it .. in fact.. the problem with the way we deal density?

  2. Thank you, Larry.

    As much as we disagree, at least we agree more than I can agree with EMR.

    Here is an area where I simply have no clue.

    Suppose you give a developer a density bonus for building some percentage of more workforce affodable housing. And suppose that bonus is still less than what he thinks he can sell full-price housing for.

    Doesn’t that necessarily mean that he will add the cost of the difference in price for those workforce houses to the price of the full-cost houses? Isn’t this another example of the county shifting costs off the county books and on to the books of the general economy?

    I don’t see that this amounts to a savings to the general populace.

    I don’t like the idea of unencumbered and unpriced development any more than you do. Yet, I see things entirely differently.

    I think there are two classes of builders. Commercial builders and self-builders. I built my second home in Alexandria on the cheap because the land was basically free: I already owned it. The land was valued at $5000 before I built the home. I spent roughly $100,000 dollars to build a SFH on a one acvre lot. The lot was subsequently fvalued at $86,000 dollars, and the construction was valued at $256,000. Fifteen years ago.

    Today it is valued at much more.

    And yet, there are those that say construction and development “costs us money”.

    I agree, but not always.

    Even today, I can afford to rent my home in Alexandria for below market rates. My current tenants are a nice young couple who work for non-profit organizations.

    How does that figure in to the cost of community services? Should I have been required to pay $50,000 in proffers to prevent me gaining a major “windfall” in land speculation or property values and equity? I am not Pulte homes.

    now I find myself in a similar situation on the farm. I can easily provide what amounts to work force housing. I might even design it so that my current farm laborer can afford to live there.

    But I am utterly prohibited from doing anything, other than certain things that I think benefeit only the most wealthy among us.

    I have a problem with that. And yes, I think it has to do with the way we paint density with a braod stroke brush, when mabe an air brush and a sensitive artist behind it is more appropriate.

    Yes, EMR, I expect to profit from the deal, but that does not make me Pulte or Centex.

  3. Gosh, that was awful.

    For those of you who think I cannot type or spell, I have to say that at least part of the problem is that my 56k connection, and my antique keyboard can’t seem to keep up with my typing.

    I may have to resort to using Word to compose my thoughts and then transposing them here.

    If someone knows of an on-line spell checker, I’d appreciate the hint.

  4. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    Ray, our friend Mr. Bacon might be able to help. The old blogging format on Road to Ruin, when coupled with the Google toolbar, permitted one to use Google’s spell check. I know it saved me a few times. Perhaps, Jim could look into the format change (and tell us how he did it).

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Ray and TMT, I checked the system settings for the blog and did not find anything that would enable a spellchecker. If I ever run across such a thing, I will enable it.

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    well.. I use Foxfires spell checker.. and it can’t save you if you’re typing fast…

    most of my posts have atrocious (gawd I can’t believe I spelled that word right)… WRONG
    words… like “reason” instead of “region”… that’s what happens when the spell checker
    pops up and you mindlessly accept it’s suggestion….

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: affordable housing

    I think what we need … is a Walmart division that does land development and housing.


    Just think.. every home will come with an ample supply of cheap Christmas yard decorations.

    … I know.. I know… I said a bad thing here….

  8. Toomanytaxes Avatar


    Re spellchecker. It is my somewhat vague recollection that, on the Road to Ruin blog, a pop-up page did not appear, but rather, just a “regular” page that permitted comments to be typed. The Google spellchecker works on regular pages, but not on popups. I hope this helps.

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