Land transfer allows Fort Monroe to move forward with plans

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The Fort Monroe Authority is moving forward with its plans to establish the area as a livable community and tourist attraction.

Last week, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the finalization of a deal that would transfer more than 70 acres of land from the Army to the Commonwealth.

Glen Oder, the Executive Director for the Fort Monroe Authority, says they’re excited about the deal.

Oder says the fort was built in the 1800s, following the War of 1812. He says the original deal made between the Army and the Commonwealth would transfer the land back to the the state once the fort closed in 2011.

Oder says much of the land was transferred over then, but because property was added over time, a new deal had to be made for the Commonwealth to buy the land.

“This building right here, which is the Fort Monroe Theater, seats about 600 people. The property line actually runs through the middle of the theater. I’m standing on Commonwealth property. If you go in past the foyer, you’re past Army property,” Oder said.

Oder says they worked with the Army to deal with things like utilities and leasing homes on the property. He says the transfer of land will make it easier for plans to get into motion.

Oder says more than 160 families live in Fort Monroe and a few businesses are established on the property as well.

The transfer of the acres, which include the marina and the area surrounding the theater, will allow them to make it better for residents and tourists they’re hoping to attract.

Oder says some of the projects they’re hoping to complete by the end of the year is setting up a visitor’s center and renting out buildings, like the theater, for public use.

The Fort Monroe Authority says a seven mile hiking trail will also be created in the upcoming years with help from the National Park Service, which also owns land near the fort.

“We want to work with the National Park Service to create a beautified vision for Fort Monroe that will tell the great history of Fort Monroe, that will help us manage the property and make it open so that all people who can come here and learn this incredible history about the country here at Fort Monroe,” Oder said.

The Commonwealth’s Secretary of Transportation says the state spent roughly $23 million for the land. He says the money will go towards funding road projects outside of Army bases.