Midtown to become new destination spot in Norfolk

Posted at 2:41 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 16:27:54-04

NORFOLK, Va. - It's home to 5,000 residents, the Virginia Zoo, Old Dominion University and many new restaurants and breweries. The Greater Park Place area in Norfolk, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, had a bad reputation decades ago, but that's now starting to change.

The Park Place area is sandwiched between the Ghent area and Colonial Place.

"Around the 1970s, people would say, 'You don’t go to Park Place because it's an area of problems,'" said Park Place Civic League President Charles Johnson.

Once known for blighted houses and run-down buildings, the community is now creating a name and a vibe for itself.

"Wherever you want to go, you are within 1 mile, because Park Place is the center of it," Johnson said.

Johnson spent Wednesday morning cleaning up trash in an area around 27th Street and Church Street, an area that may soon see a rebirth.

"There is no vast area, if you look around there are cars everywhere," Johnson said.

A new green space in the area is the site of the new proposed "Midtown."

"We want to see a combination of retail spaces, open spaces and places where the community can come out to congregate and all be welcome," said resident Anthony Hailey.

Hailey lives and owns a business in the Park Place area. He believes much more is needed to make this area a place to drive to and not drive through.

"Perhaps a grocery store, some sort of market to benefit the community, to make it also a walkable neighborhood," Hailey said.

That's what some of the plans that stakeholders presented to the City of Norfolk look like, with proposals for multi-family housing, mixed-use developments, green spaces and walkable urban development all on the table.

"There are very few mixed residents or apartments in this area," Johnson said.

The area has connectivity and a strong community, but now, the people who live here say it's time for a real destination to make this area the new center.

"We need something here to make people stop. We want this area to be one where you can live, work and play," said Johnson.

To look at the proposed Midtown area plans, click here. Residents can head to Maker's Craft Brewery on March 26 from noon to 4 p.m. to look at the new plans and voice their opinions.

Click here to view maps of the plans

Related: Emmitt Smith, Pharrell Williams among those working to transform former Military Circle Mall area