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    Armada Hoffler buys property near proposed Virginia Beach light-rail route

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    Armada Hoffler Properties has purchased the Columbus Village shopping plaza, giving the developer a prime piece of property adjacent to the city’s proposed site for a light-rail transfer station.

    The developer of Town Center said in a news release that it acquired the property for $8.8 million in debt and other considerations. Columbus Village, on the corner of Virginia Beach Boulevard and Constitution Drive, houses Barnes & Noble, Five Below, Lenscrafters and other national retailers.

    In a news release, Lou Haddad, the company’s CEO, said the location near its current Town Center holdings provides strong possibilities for the company.

    “The opportunity to acquire and control additional income producing real estate contiguous to Town Center will allow us to expand on the success of our flagship asset through additional development in the future,” Haddad said.

    A plan to extend light rail from Newtown Road on the Norfolk city line to Town Center stands at an estimated cost of about $327 million for the 3-mile link. The state has agreed to pay $155 million, with Virginia Beach taxpayers picking up the rest.

    In March, Deputy City Manager Dave Hansen gave a presentation to the City Council that recommended ending the rail line just east of Constitution Drive. Hansen said any expansion should include a rail-transfer station so the city could eventually expand the public transportation line to the resort area, Norfolk International Airport or the Hilltop shopping district.

    Hansen told the council that adding a station at Constitution Drive would spur development on the surrounding land. Under current proposals, the city would have to pay all costs for the station, since it is not part of the initial plan.

    A final city vote on extending light rail is at least a year away, but the city is spending $20 million this year on the project to keep it alive.

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