Fund dedicates $1M to support port host community improvements

virginia

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New state port host community grants will help Virginia’s oyster industry upgrade the Menchville Marina in Newport News, complete a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development around Lambert’s Point in Norfolk, and redevelop the derelict site of the decommissioned former Cogentrix coal-fired power plant in Portsmouth.

The City of Newport News owns Menchville Marina and will lease it to a consortium of four Virginia oyster companies, which have a combined 200 years of experience, according to a news release from the office of Gov. Ralph Northam.

They have committed to make needed improvements to the marina. The Mariner’s Museum and Christopher Newport University also will use the facility for hands-on educational programming about clean water, conservation, and the oyster industry.

“A huge number of the country’s oysters flow through Menchville Marina, but the marina itself needs work,” Northam said. “So we’re investing in it just like we’re investing to restore oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay. I grew up on the water, and it’s important to me to invest in the communities that depend on the water.”

In Norfolk, “The Railyard at Lambert’s Point” is an 8.8-acre parcel where a new mixed-use development will connect the Norfolk Naval Base, Old Dominion University, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Sentara, and downtown Norfolk. The neighborhood will be fully accessible by bikes, pedestrians, and cars.

“I used to work and go to school near Lambert’s Point in Norfolk, and this community means a lot to me,” Northam said. “I’m glad the Commonwealth can help support a new pedestrian-friendly mixed-use neighborhood along Hampton Boulevard. It’s an important addition to downtown Norfolk.”

The City of Portsmouth plans to demolish and remove structures from the site of a decommissioned Cogentrix coal-fired power plant. This property has sat vacant since 2015 and can no longer function as a coal plant due to new emissions regulations. Industrial Realty Group, with the assistance of the grant, will market the property to warehouse, distribution and logistics, cold storage, and manufacturing sectors, which are growing target industries for the area.

“Demolishing the derelict structures of the decommissioned Cogentrix coal-fired plant will allow Portsmouth to bring new life to the shuttered facility,” Northam said. “Once the site is ready for development by a new industrial end user, the project could restore many of the jobs that were lost when Cogentrix closed and spur over $16.5 million in additional private investment to the redevelopment of the site.”

The General Assembly allocated $1 million in Port Host Communities Revitalization Fund (PHCRF) grants for the current fiscal year to assist with removing, renovating, or modernizing port-related buildings and facilities in Virginia’s five port host communities, which are Front Royal, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond. The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development administers the funding under the new PHCRF grant program.

The grants are intended to leverage local and private resources for the redevelopment of derelict structures, spurring long-term employment opportunities and ongoing physical and economic revitalization. This is the first time PHCRF grants are being awarded, and all grants require a 100 percent match from public or private sources.

“The flexibility of the Port Host Communities Revitalization Fund allows for a wide variety of redevelopment activities in the awarded communities,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “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.”

Additional information on the Port Host Communities Revitalization Fund is available here.

2020 PHCRF Grant Awards

  • City of Newport News: Menchville Marina – $250,000
  • City of Norfolk: Norfolk Railyard at Lambert’s Point – $250,000
  • City of Portsmouth: Project Power – $500,000

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