In 1996-97 the Virginia Beach City Council commissioned the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to do a study of the "Bayfront/Shore Drive Corridor" located in the northern section of the city along the Chesapeake Bay.
"It is the panel's first and lasting impression, reinforced by its interviews, that the Bayfront/Shore Drive area of Virginia Beach is a "resort community" as opposed to a "resort destination." While this general community character is desirable, the area does not have a clear image or unifying identity, and both the Bayfront community and the city currently lack a definite vision of what the area should be like in ten years." (pg 9, Executive Summary, BAYFRONT, VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA)
The major recommendations of the Study were:
- make the Lesner Bridge a focal point,
- extend the bike path,
- retain the four lane road,
- develop a landscape design plan,
- develop a public beach plan,
- do demonstration projects,
- create an overlay district,
- improve development review and enforcement, and
- create an advisory commission.
In February, 1998 the City Council appointed the Shore Drive Advisory Committee (renamed the Bayfront Advisory Committee (BAC) in December 2006) and directed them to begin work on an ambitious list of tasks.
The BAC meets monthly, on the third Thursday, at 3:30 p.m. at various locations. The public is invited to attend. There is an informal public question and comment period at each meeting. To request an advance agenda, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (757) 385-4621.
Work and Significant Documents
- The Shore Drive Corridor Plan, establishing a vision for the corridor, was adopted by the City Council in March 2000 as an amendment to the city's Comprehensive Plan.
- The Shore Drive Corridor Transportation Study, completed by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC), provides the framework for future transportation studies.
- The Shore Drive Design Guidelines are voluntary aesthetic standards for structures and signs in the corridor area.
- The Shore Drive Transportation Plan, completed in December 2001, includes short and long range recommendations for the corridor.
- The Shore Drive Landscaping Guidelines are voluntary standards for the informal and natural look appropriate to the unique natural conditions near the Chesapeake Bay.
- The Shore Drive Overlay District, adopted in fall 1998, defines the boundaries for development standards.
- To provide renovations and extensions to the Cape Henry Trail, grants have been sought and awarded. Extensions were made possible from West Great Neck Road to Jade Street and from Marlin Bay Drive to First Court Road.
- The city is initiating work on design of a replacement Lesner Bridge.
- The city is initiating work on design for Shore Drive Phase II (South Oliver Drive to Treasure Island Drive), Phase III (Vista Circle to Croix Drive), Phase IV (Marlin Bay Drive to Lesner Bridge), and the West Great Neck Road Sidewalk.
Shore Drive Safety Task Force
In December, 2005 the City Council appointed the Shore Drive Safety Task Force and directed them to report back to City Council on short, mid and long term recommendations for improving safety along Shore Drive. A number of interim improvement projects have been completed and more are planned.
Both the ULI report and the Shore Drive Corridor Plan recommended that architectural, landscape, and urban design plans be developed for the corridor. In response to those recommendations, the Shore Drive Design Guidelines were produced to provide design guidance for architectural, site, and landscape improvements proposed for properties within the corridor. The guidelines are the result of work done by Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc. and Folck, West & Savage Architects, as part of the Shore Drive Transportation Study (Capital Improvement Program Project # 2-114), as well as work conducted by staff of the Planning Department, which included a photographic inventory of the corridor, design analysis of existing conditions, and review of previous plans, subdivision plats, and zoning documents.