‘We hit the mark’

City’s foray into new urbanization has paid off at town center

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Print this page by Elizabeth Cooper

In plotting the city’s economic course, Hampton leaders can draw inspiration from the success of Peninsula Town Center. Opened in 2010 near the Interstate 64 and I-664 interchange, the center replaced the fading Coliseum Mall with more than one million square feet of retail, dining, offices and apartments.

By all accounts, Hampton’s foray into new urbanization has paid off as shoppers returned to the Coliseum Central Business District. The mixed-use project also netted the city the 2011 Donald E. Hunter Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award from the Economic Development Division of the American Planning Association. The award honors a U.S. or Canadian city that shows innovation and success with an economic development project within the last decade.

“We hit the mark,” says Raymond Tripp, the center’s general manager. “We’ve enhanced the quality of retailers and without a doubt the town center venue is one consumers like much better.” He adds that despite a lackluster economy, the center has attracted retailers such as Chico’s, H&M and J.Jill. “The Peninsula is a good market base. Retailers in the area want to go where the newest and greatest is.”

That was the attitude of Rick and Peggy Lawrence. Not only did they relocate their Beach Treats Gifts from Chesapeake’s Greenbrier Mall to Town Center, but they also moved into one of the complex’s apartments. “It’s a nicer, newer venue,” Lawrence says. “We wanted to be part of that.” Living on site adds convenience. “Everything is here. Unless we have to go to the doctor or go see our children, we don’t have to leave the complex.”
While all 158 apartments within the complex were leased in less than a year of the center’s opening, only about half of the 114,000 square feet of office space has been filled. “Office space has been a little tougher to lease,” Tripp admits. “Right now, there’s not a lot of movement, but we hope to see a change in the next six months.”

Although the center has addressed the city’s primary goal of enhancing the quality of retail in the Coliseum Business District, there is still work to be done. “We’re not finished by any means,” Tripp says, adding that deals are being finalized with up to five new retailers. There is also room to build more structures, such as town houses, a big box retail store and a hotel. Those, however, would come later. “We would have to evaluate the costs regarding feasibility,” he notes. “Right now, we are holding firm where we are.” 

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