Spending Money on Norfolk’s Future

It makes sense for Norfolk to buy blighted properties to tear them down, especially in Denby Park and Ocean View.

One decrepit shopping center at Wards Corner, just blocks from Denby Park, has been razed to make way for a more upscale shopping plaza, with a private investment of $18 million. Across the street, $1.2 million in renovations at the Midtown Shopping Center have given it a much-needed face lift.

By acquiring dated and ramshackle apartments that front blocks on East Little Creek Road and Fort Worth Avenue, Norfolk improves its chances for continuing the changes at Wards Corner and boosting growth along the corridor between Granby Street and the thriving Wal-Mart shopping center at Tidewater Drive.

With the acquisition of 37 apartments on seven properties, Norfolk has boosted the number it has acquired for demolition in Denby Park to 105.

Councilman Andy Protogyrou said changes in the neighborhood will take time. But he promised the city would not buy properties merely to sit on them.

“We’re looking to be able clean out the property from ills we’ve had in the past, from poor planning, from buildings that unfortunately fostered a sense of insecurity for residents,” he said. “We’re following what the plan is. It is a strong, viable community. But it’s also going to be a strong, viable commercial corridor.”

It will be again, finally, with the city’s commitment.

It’s an example of city purchases that benefit residents in several ways: removing blight, lowering crime, and improving the development viability of adjacent areas.

The purchases are smart investments in the future of two of Norfolk’s most vital neighborhoods.

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