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June 17, 2013

What’s in the works in Virginia Beach to improve quality of life?

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What follows is a review of new facilities designed to improve safety and quality of life for Virginia Beach residents.
Chesapeake Beach & Town Center Fire & Rescue Stations
Located at the intersection of Greenwell Road and Shore Drive, the new Chesapeake Beach Station is a 14,644-square-foot, two-story structure that will accommodate three truck bays and sleeping quarters for 10 Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel. Support facilities include a lobby with watch desk, an information technology room, equipment storage, decontamination room, work room, dayroom and training rooms, kitchen/dining facilities, shower/restroom facilities, physical training room and offices for the Fire and EMS captains.
The total project budget for the station is $5.66 million. Work began on Feb. 27, 2012 and is expected to be complete late summer of 2013.
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The Town Center Station is even larger at 25,916 square feet and features four bays with space to expand to a fifth in the future. The two-story building, located west of Town Center on Columbus Street, will house sleeping quarters for 15 Fire and EMS workers and a battalion chief. The facility has also been sited to accommodate an additional four sleeping quarters if expansion becomes necessary.
This station is larger than most because the second floor will contain about 7,500 square feet of office space for Fire Administration, which is currently located at the Municipal Center. Support facilities include a lobby with watch desk, information technology room, equipment storage, decontamination room, work room, dayroom/training rooms, kitchen/dining facilities, shower/restroom facilities, physical training room and offices for the Fire and EMS captains as well as the battalion chief. Work commenced on the Town Center Station on March 12, 2012, and this facility, with a $9.43 million total project budget, is also expected to be substantially completed by late August.
Bow Creek Community Recreation Center
Though constructed primarily over the previous footprint, at 67,743 square feet, the new Bow Creek Community Recreation Center will have 84 percent more square footage, due largely in part to the addition of a second floor. It will also feature an indoor pool with play components and 25-yard lap lanes, a two-court indoor gymnasium, fitness spaces, a weight room, youth-development classrooms with a dedicated playground, and locker rooms with family changing areas.
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Designed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification (as required for all new city facilities over 10,000 square feet), the new Bow Creek Recreation Center and both new fire and rescue stations feature a heating and cooling system that utilizes a geothermal well field as a heat source (in heating mode) or a heat sink (in cooling mode). This type of system takes advantage of the moderate temperatures below ground to boost efficiency and reduce operational costs by using the earth as a heat source in the winter and dissipating heat into the ground in the summer.
The original structure was in use for more than 50 years and was showing its age. It closed to the public on Aug. 13, 2012. The project was originally put out for bid in January of this year; however, the bids that came in were over budget, so the engineers and architects who designed the facility performed some value engineering to bring the costs down. Changes to the plans helped make the building more affordable without compromising the center’s amenities, longevity or structural integrity.
The city rebid the project on May 7, and the new bids were submitted May 29. City staff members are reviewing the bids, and if everything is in order, the project will proceed once an award is made. On June 25, City Council is expected to vote on an ordinance which, if approved, will transfer $2.2 million left over from the construction of the Williams Farm Community Recreation Center to be used for the construction of Bow Creek Community Recreation Center.  These funds will offset the revised cost of the project, which is higher than what was budgeted in 2011, before the economy began to improve.
We now expect Bow Creek Community Recreation Center to open late 2014.
Bow Creek Golf Course remains open and will continue to be available for play during the recreation center construction.
Joint-Use Library
The new Joint-Use Library, a collaborative effort of Tidewater Community College (TCC) and the city of Virginia Beach, will host its grand opening this summer on Aug. 17. The 124,000-square-foot, modern facility is located at the corner of South Rosemont Road and Faculty Boulevard on the edge of the TCC Virginia Beach Campus.

TCC contributed 83 percent of the funding for the $43 million project, and the city contributed 17 percent. Operating costs will be split in a similar fashion, but the facility will be staffed and managed jointly.
TCC students will enjoy an expanded popular materials collection, while residents will have increased access to academic materials and enjoy the extended service hours of a college library. The new library will be the largest in the city and will feature nearly 400 public computers, free Wi-Fi, a coffee shop, teen area, interactive children’s section, small-group work rooms and study areas, reading nooks with comfortable seating, and public meeting space.
There are also numerous environmentally responsible features such as stations where customers may scan materials and email the images to themselves free of charge instead of paying for photocopies. Lights throughout the library will also dim automatically to conserve energy and keep utility expenses down.
Town Center Phase V
Currently under construction, Town Center Phase V consists of a third office tower that will house 213,000 square feet of office space spread over nine levels, 21,400 square feet of retail space and 290 apartments. The city’s contribution will be an adjacent new 950-space municipal parking garage as well as streetscape landscaping and paving.

Clark Nexsen Architecture & Engineering will anchor the new building, which will occupy space formerly used as a parking lot at the corner of Constitution Drive and Columbus Street.

The entire project is expected to cost $105.4 million, and about $21 million of that will come from public dollars. Financing for the city’s portion of the project will be covered by funds generated through a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District that was established for Town Center in 2000. The TIF accumulates incremental real estate taxes paid by properties within the district to pay the debt service for Town Center’s garages. Town Center generated a total of more than $6.8 million in business tax revenue in 2012 and has generated nearly $43 million in taxes for the city since 2005.

Construction began in February, and the entire project is expected to be complete in July 2014.

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