PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth is preparing to take another blow.
Tidewater Community College plans to pull its Visual Arts Center from Old Towne and move it to the other side of the tunnel.
“It’s a great school — love it,” said Matthew Giles, a TCC student. The only thing the graphic design student might want to change is its location. “A move wouldn’t hurt a bit… a lot of students will benefit from it also, relinquish a lot of the problems people have coming over here, especially with the tolls,” he said.
Of the more than 700 students enrolled at the Portsmouth campus, Giles is among the 90 percent who live in Norfolk or Virginia Beach.
On top of tuition, tolls are scheduled to go up again soon. “Oh yeah, I’m not looking forward to that,” said another student, Jennifer Grow, as she threw her head back.
Tolls however are not the reason TCC cites for the move. “It’s time to grow. We are limited… we can’t grow this facility,” said TCC spokesperson, Marian Anderfuren. She explained that TCC wants to marry its visual arts and culinary arts programs, and the Portsmouth building is too small, with limited accessibility to the top floor. “We are not abandoning the city of Portsmouth,” she said.
She pointed to TCC’s newest campus, which is located in Portsmouth, and says they are considering the city for a new skilled trades facility, too.
But as far as expanding the arts, Anderfuren says TCC feels “like the opportunity to do that is in Norfolk.”
Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe says the city is working with the governor’s office to keep the Visual Arts Center in Portsmouth. “It can flourish and grow in Portsmouth and there is no reason to move,” Rowe said.
Rowe does not believe that tolls are a reason to move either.
City Councilman Bill Moody told 10 On Your Side that this is “another example of how the tunnel tolls are impacting Portsmouth and Norfolk.”
He said the city’s Economic Development Department needs to be “very aggressive in pursuing replacements” for the Visual Arts Center as well as other vacant storefronts downtown.
TCC does not have a new space yet, but Anderfuren says Downtown Norfolk would make sense.
The target date is summer 2020.