A significant mixed-use development is coming to the west side of Norfolk on land directly adjacent to the Elizabeth River Trail. The Railyard at Lambert’s Point proposes turning a couple of seemingly vacant blocks along Hampton Boulevard between ODU and West Ghent into a vibrant shopping and entertainment destination, including a Lidl, local restaurants, and other retail tenants. While flush with parking lots, the site design hints at a turn towards more pedestrian-oriented, low impact design as the city encourages denser infill development in older neighborhoods like the emerging Railroad District.
The project is a joint venture between Meredith Development Corporation and Clear Creek Brothers LLC out of Charlotte, North Carolina. The Meredith Company owns four out of the five historic buildings built between 1920 and 1940. Clear Creek Brothers have acquired the surrounding properties on the site to develop. Other involved parties include Timmons Group as the lead engineer, WPA as lead architects, and Compo as the general contractor.
Construction on the project, an estimated 40 million dollar investment that mixes historic repurposing or ‘adaptive reuse’ and new construction, will be complete in the summer of 2023, according to Rich Meredith, project manager with Meredith Development. Overall, the Railyard will renovate some of the existing old manufacturing, warehouse, and depot buildings on the site and construct new buildings compatible with the neighborhood’s historic character.
After about a year’s delay due to the pandemic, site work will begin this spring on the project’s first buildings. Norfolk city council and the Norfolk Planning Commission originally approved the mixed-use development, which takes advantage of historic adaptive reuse credits, in March of 2020; however, construction was delayed primarily due to the pandemic. In March, submitted documents to Norfolk’s Architectural Review Board appear to show a coffee shop with a drive-through in Building 1 along Hampton Boulevard and a Lidl in Building 9 and signage and design elements that harken back to the area’s industrial past.
When complete, ten buildings, four repurposed and six new, will occupy the 8.8-acre site centrally located between a growing Old Dominion campus to the north and Sentara medical complex to the south. While the site does not incorporate an official extension of the Elizabeth River Trail, riders will be encouraged to travel through the Railyard on foot or by bike. The design attempts to accommodate a substantial amount of parking and promote a pedestrian-friendly environment. Parking is behind the buildings fronting Hampton Boulevard. The building’s orientation is around a central courtyard and green space available to host farmers’ markets, concerts, and other events.
The Railyard intends to fit into the Railroad District, which snakes its way between Park Place and Ghent through much of Norfolk’s transitioning industrial blocks along the Norfolk Southern rail line from Church Street to Lambert’s Point. Development of the Railroad District has been spurred on in the past couple of years by private developers, such as the Monument Company’s embrace of adaptive reuse credits that directly reduce developers’ taxes. The project joins newly the newly completed IP Configure campus and soon-to-open Sanctuary DMZ in the Lambert’s Point area. Within the actual rail yards adjacent to this site, a $100 million wind energy project expected to employ 500 was recently announced.
With all of this development happening in and around the Railroad District, could a bus rapid transit line connecting the west side of Norfolk to the Tide, with a stop near the Railyard, make sense? Possibly. What’s for sure is that the Railyard will change the face of one of the last large undeveloped properties along Hampton Boulevard.