Beach council questions moving City Hall to Town Center

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A study says it will cost the city $65 million to build a new City Hall at Town Center.

The plan would utilize city-owned property currently leased to a car dealership that used to be a Circuit City.

On Tuesday, the city council reviewed a total of eight plans. Six proposals deal with either renovating and adding on to the current building or constructing a new three-story building nearby.

All of the plans to keep City Hall at the Municipal Center in Princess Anne are expected to cost about $55 million, because the city would not have to pay for a roughly $10.6 million parking garage like they would at Town Center.

Document: City Hall 2020 presentation

Built in the early 1960s, officials say the current City Hall has asbestos and failing air conditioning and electrical systems.

A study also found the city needs about 149,000 square feet to accommodate their current needs and to account for growth over the next 50 years. The current building is 80,000 square feet.

“We really need to let people know [City Hall] is failing and how bad it is,” said councilwoman Rosemary Wilson.

“I think we have to make special efforts to make the public understand what is going on, why this is not a luxury but a necessity,” said Councilman Bobby Dyer.

Dyer says he is hesitant to support a move to Town Center, saying it’s already a “logistical inconvenience,” but says he would support a satellite office to offer city services closer to where more people live.

“We got a traffic and gridlock problem down there right now that is not going to go away soon, and all of these new developments that are going to be put down there are going to add to it,” said Dyer.

Coucilwoman Shannon Kane said she fears putting the tax-exempt building in Town Center would take up space better served for businesses that could attract more millennials.

“Town Center is very valuable real estate,” said Kane. “I’m not so sure City Hall is the best thing to put in Town Center. I would rather give economic development some incentives to get some Fortune 100 companies here to place new businesses in Town Center so these folks that want to live, work and play can walk in an area and have it all there.”

The city could build on their own land, at the former Circuit City that’s now leased to a car dealership, or strike a deal with developer Armada Hoffler.

Last week, Armada Hoffler proposed a “land swap” with the city to build a new City Hall at the current Regal theater in exchange for ownership of the Circuit City land.

Read: Armada Hoffler City Hall Proposal

Representatives from the company will brief the city council on June 6.

“If we could provide our services better for our citizens, I think that speak volumes because I think that is something we should always strive to do,” Mayor Will Sessoms said of the possibility to move to Town Center.

Sessoms agreed with other council members to seek a lot of input from the public before making a final decision.