Chesapeake studying Greenbrier’s future
What’s the path ahead for Chesapeake’s Greenbrier community, a 12-square-mile area known as the city’s economic powerhouse?
Consultants have been meeting with city departments, the business community and the public since January to craft a plan guiding Greenbrier’s future development. They also posted a survey on Chesapeake’s website that garnered about 1,640 responses by July 1.
“What really spurred things on was the Summit Pointe development,” says Jimmy McNamara, the city’s planning director. Located in Greenbrier, Summit Pointe is a pedestrian-friendly mix of offices, apartments, retail and restaurants that Fortune 500 discount retailer Dollar Tree Inc. is developing around its 12-story corporate headquarters tower, which opened in 2018.
Chesapeake hired Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., a Raleigh, North Carolina-based planning and design consulting firm, for $744,500 to help create the Greenbrier Area Plan for the community, which is bordered by the Chesapeake Expressway, Military Highway and Kempsville Road. Expected to take 16 months to complete, the area plan will become part of the city’s comprehensive plan.
“We’re big believers that focus precedes success,” City Manager Chris Price told City Council during a May discussion of the plan.
Through meetings and the survey, the consultants have heard Greenbrier’s best qualities include convenient shopping, good schools and parks, and its variety of restaurants, Devin Simpson, a Kimley-Horn transportation engineer, told city officials. The community’s challenges include traffic congestion, few attractions for teens and young adults, a need for more housing options, and the struggling Greenbrier Mall, which has an uncertain future after most of the property went into foreclosure last year when Tennessee-based CBL Properties defaulted on a $61.6 million loan.
Brad Barnett of Cooper Robertson, Kimley-Horn’s urban design partner on the project, told City Council that residents want more outdoor facilities and gathering places; more options to walk, bike or take transit to ease congestion and connect residential and commercial areas; and more activities available after work and on weekends. Greenbrier has large parks, he said, but there’s an opportunity to create pocket parks and playgrounds in residential areas and small plazas near shopping areas.
Public outreach is continuing for the Greenbrier Area Plan, and the result will be broken into phases, says McNamara.
“I think this will be a plan that will evolve over time,” he says. “We’ll be able to knock a couple of things out and we’ll move the ball towards where we need to go.”