Thanks to the efforts of Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Scott Rigell, a major project in Virginia Beach is moving forward with a loan guarantee from the federal government. The project, 31Ocean, is being developed by Gold Key/PHR Hotels and Resorts and promises to bring hundreds of jobs to Virginia Beach while helping to diversify its economy.
31Ocean is under construction now at 31st Street between Pacific and Arctic Avenues, a block off the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. When completed, it will feature upscale shops, restaurants, hotels and apartments in a pedestrian-oriented setting.
When Gold Key/PHR applied for the loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the developer was assured it would be approved. However, under normal HUD approval process, the project would have been delayed for as much as six months. The delayed timing could have forced Gold Key/PHR to either abrogate or pay outright the leases already arranged with retailers and restaurants to reserve space in the project.
Senator Warner and Congressman Rigell stepped in and worked with HUD to move the project forward more quickly, with the developer taking all the risk and paying for the additional HUD inspections that were required. This kept the project timeline intact, and 31Ocean will open to the public in January 2013.
“We thank Senator Warner and Congressman Rigell for working with HUD both regionally and at the Federal level to move this project forward,” said Mayor Will Sessoms. “Without their involvement it would certainly have been delayed, to the detriment of a venture that is critical for the economy and job creation in Virginia Beach.”
31Ocean is an important component of the city’s Laskin Gateway Corridor plan. It includes 178 apartments, 55,000 square feet of retail and restaurants and 65,000 square feet of office space. The total private investment for the mixed-use project is more than $70 million.
Bruce Thompson, CEO of Gold Key/PHR and developer of 31Ocean said the timing could not have been better. “We knew the HUD approval was coming but we also knew it could be months away. We had made commitments to the city, to businesses, to new residents and to our partners that we would open on time. We could not have met our time frame without true bipartisan cooperation of Senator Warner and Congressman Rigell. I’d like to extend special thanks to Senator Warner who took time out of his demanding schedule to travel to Virginia Beach to meet with the HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan, on our behalf. Because of the expedited HUD approval, we are very close to our original schedule for completion.”