NORFOLK -- City planners have a vision of tall condos, offices and retail space sprouting near light rail stations by 2020.
City Council is set to approve a raft of zoning changes around light rail stations to fertilize the anticipated development booms along The Tide.
"What we're trying to do right now is be prepared for when that development interest does occur," Norfolk Planning Director Frank Duke said. "Every other place in the country with light rail has seen developer interest. We anticipate that same interest in Norfolk."
Duke proposes creating transit-oriented development areas within a half-mile radius of stations outside downtown, with the exception of the Ingleside Road station which is nestled in a residential area.
The transit-oriented areas would be zoned for mixed-use development, a hybrid of commercial and retail space with an emphasis on biking and walking and a de-emphasis on cars.
Doors to businesses would face train stations.
The heaviest development would be within a quarter mile from the train station, tapering off into existing neighborhoods.
Nearby civic league presidents seem to support the new transportation districts, so long as the city preserves neighborhood character.
"If you can improve something, let's go for it," said Ford Mason, president of the Newtown South Civic League.