“Port host communities” receive revitalization funds
Port Host Communities Revitalization Funds will assist projects in Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth.
The General Assembly allocated $1 million in grants to redevelop port-related properties in Virginia’s “port host communities,” including Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday.
The goal of the funding is to enable timely redevelopment of port structures for economic development and employment growth, according to the Department of Housing and Community Development’s program guidelines.
The Port Host Communities Revitalization Fund (PHCRF) can be used to acquire, rehabilitate or repair structures for economic development in port communities. This year’s PHCRF grants, which mark the first time the funds have been distributed, went to three different projects in port communities in the eastern region of Virginia.
The projects include bolstering Newport News’ Menchville Marina’s oyster industry, completing a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development in Norfolk’s Lambert’s Point and redeveloping the former coal-fired power plant Cogentrix Energy Power Management LLC in Portsmouth. The Menchville and Norfolk projects each received $250,000 in funding, and the Portsmouth project received $500,000, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
In order to receive funding, the structures must have extensive physical deterioration or a major negative impact on the surrounding community.
Newport News owns Menchville Marina, but will lease it to four Virginia oyster companies, including Coastal Seafood in Newport News, Ballard Fish and Oyster Company on the Eastern Shore and W.E. Kellum Seafood and Bevans Oyster Company on the Northern Neck (according to reporting from the Daily Press) to make improvements to the marina. The Mariner’s Museum and Christopher Newport University will also use the marina for programming.
“We’re investing in it just like we’re investing to restore oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay,” Northam said in a statement released Tuesday. “I grew up on the water, and it’s important to me to invest in the communities that depend on the water.”
The Railyard at Lambert’s Point in Norfolk is an 8.8-acre parcel that will utilize the PHCRF funding to become a mixed-use development connecting the Norfolk Naval Base, Old Dominion University, Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Sentara Healthcare and downtown Norfolk.
The former site of the Cogentrix coal-fired power plant has been vacant since 2015 and cannot function as such due to emissions regulations. Industrial Realty Group plans to market the property to warehouse and distribution sectors.
“The flexibility of the Port Host Communities Revitalization Fund allows for a wide variety of redevelopment activities in the awarded communities,” Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball said. “Each project is being redeveloped for a market-driven purpose, regardless of its original use, that will best support the economic strategies of the community and region.”
Applications for the next round of PHCRF funding are due May 15.