Report: Keep Waterside, but give it a facelift


by Patrick Terpstra

Posted on January 10, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 10 at 11:46 PM

NORFOLK -- One of the biggest development projects this year will be Waterside.

On Tuesday, Norfolk City Council members will receive a report from a team of five consultants tasked with recommending how to revitalize the once-bustling marketplace.

The consultants are recommending Waterside not be torn down, as some have suggested.

But they say the building needs major investment and improvements to bring back the crowds.

Waterside is too dark, according to the report.  The consultants are suggesting Norfolk replace walls with more windows to showcase the Elizabeth River.

Their report: Waterside needs at least three upscale restaurants and larger retail shops.

The consultants recommend Norfolk try to attract something like a fresh produce market.

Part of the problem is that Waterside is isolated, the team found.

They recommend making Waterside Drive more pedestrian friendly and with more signs to better showcase the marketplace.

Right now, people visit Waterside impulsively, the consultants discovered during six visits.

Norfolk should strive to make it a destination, according to the report.

"It absolutely should be a destination," said Kevin Murphy, president of the Downtown Norfolk Civic League. "It needs to be a regional location and up and down the East Coast for people to visit."

Norfolk City Council will now decide what to do with Waterside, when to do it, and how to pay for it.