Plan to draw millennials and more to downtown Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS , Va (WAVY) — How would you describe downtown Newport News?

“Kinda stale, I mean it really could be a lot better,” shipyard worker Andrew Roberts told

His assessment is not uncommon. In fact, it would not even be insulting to City Manager Jim Bourey, whose magnificent office view is surrounded by concrete.

“If you look at downtown from above, we have a whole lot of parking lots,” he said.

But Bourey anticipates a new view proposed by D.C. architecture firm Perkins Eastman. Their colorful renditions of waterfront communities show buildings where people can live above shops and restaurants, a place where gray concrete goes green with two proposed parks, a pedestrian garden bridge over the traffic bridge on 28th Street and a pier with ferries to Norfolk and Portsmouth.

“That would definitely bring a lot more people make it a lot more interesting,” Jalen Warren said.

He is one of the estimated 30,000 shipyard associated workers Bourey hopes a revitalization will capture. Bourey says 75 percent of shipyard workers leave work and high-tail it home to other cities.

“There’s a lot of folks in the shipyard, a lot of millennials that work in the shipyard, that would love to just walk home to a place in downtown.”

Of course, a revitalization of this magnitude will take time, money, investors and imagination.

Bourey would not put a price tag on the project, but says it will take hundreds of millions in private investment over probably the next 20 years. He says the next step is for council to look at opportunities to create public spaces and connect with investors.