The Princess Anne Commons Gateway Park project is a major renovation of the former Princess Anne Park site.
As a planned gateway to the Princess Anne Commons corridor that contains a mix of public and private uses, quality development and exceptional recreation and open spaces, Princess Anne Commons Gateway Park features various components that provide a strong sense of arrival to the area. The project is being coordinated with Princess Anne Road improvements and was completed in two phases.
The first phase of the renovated park project was completed February 2013 and includes a new trail system, restrooms, extensive tree planting and expanded parking. The gateway feature includes a light garden sculpture originally located at the former Virginia Beach Pavilion.
Consisting of glass sun-refraction panels affixed to white poles and arranged in a clustered fashion to resemble a grove of trees, the Light Garden has blue LED lighting for night illumination. The work was acquired in 1983 and was one of the first pieces of art funded by the Percent for Art program. It was commissioned specifically for the Pavilion site; however, project architects deemed the work incompatible with the new convention center. Because of this, the sculpture was placed in storage until a new home could be found.
In 2008, the Public Art Committee of the Arts and Humanities Commission deemed Princess Anne Commons as a potential site location for the Light Garden. The Commission saw this site as an opportunity to further spread public art to all areas of the City. Princess Anne Park became an optimal location because of the surrounding landscaping and good sun exposure. At the directive of the late artist’s wife, Light Garden’s configuration was rearranged to reflect a more forest-like feel, rendering it ideal for a park setting.
The light garden sculpture is encompassed by low brick walls with higher decorative pillars and landscaping. The gateway treatment and proposed site signage are unique and create a significant gateway statement for the entire Princess Anne Commons area.
An essential change to this park site was the removal of some mature and infirm trees that were replaced with new tree plantings to promote a healthy, extensive urban tree canopy. Twelve new species of trees were planted, including large canopy trees like Oak, Beech, Sycamore and Southern Magnolia; others were smaller understory/flowering trees. This tree species diversification helps protect against disease/pest damage and enhances the natural beauty of the park site.
The second phase of the Princess Anne Commons Gateway Park project was completed in July 2013 and includes new picnic shelters, playground equipment, and other park amenities such as benches and tables.