Crowd raises concern over $10 million incentive for new VB development

A rendering of CityView Two obtained by 10 On Your Side.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The city council has approved a $60 million mixed-use development near Town Center — and with it, comes a deal with the developer.

The city has agreed to reimburse $10.2 million in paid real estate taxes to Ripley Heatwole Inc. to help build a parking garage, with some public spaces, on the property at Constitution Drive and Bonney Road.

Many speakers and Councilwoman Jessica Abbott called the deal “corporate welfare” before the council gave the green light.

Abbott and Bobby Dyer voted against CityView Two, the name of the development that will bring more than 200 apartments, retail space and even a hotel to the 23-acre property over the next six years.

“Every government needs to be responsible for their taxes or how they spend the money,” said one man from the podium.

Councilwoman Barbara Henley says the money is not currently in the city’s coffers and will be generated only because the new development is being built. Henley points out the city has programs in place to incentivize new business and jobs.

“If we decide we are not going to do that, then we are going to be at a great disadvantage because just about every municipality that I can think of does exactly that,” said Henley.

Abbott says the incentives are not necessary. On Tuesday, she expressed disappointment at the developer for selling the project as “millennial friendly.”

“There is a firm and almost universal belief with the millennial generation, and that is that special incentives to those with above average means is appalling.”

The project was first approved by the Virginia Beach Development Authority.

Abbott raised concern about one of the authority’s members having a possible conflict of interest with TowneBank, which is financing the project. Abbott says she wanted the VBDA to re-vote, with the one member in question abstaining, but the city council approved the project anyway.

“Unfortunately, there is no requirement for the Development Authority to re-vote on CityView Two despite the known conflict of interest,” Abbott wrote on Facebook. “There is also no support from any other members of council to defer our vote on CityView Two until after the Development Authority can re-vote.”