Developer proposes workforce housing project in Virginia Beach, some residents are unhappy (2024)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A development that includes workforce housing is in the works in Virginia Beach just off of Princess Anne Road next to the Virginia Beach National Golf Course.

The property was once a working farm.

"The history behind that is this property is owned by a family that's owned it since the late 1800s and were farmers," said Freddie Fletcher, senior development manager, Franklin Johnston Group. "This property hasn't been farmed in about 15 years. It's been deemed by the owners to not be commercially viable to farm anymore. It's too small. They own farmland elsewhere and they still farm that. They're selling this."

WATCH Amazon to build 2 Virginia Beach facilities, creating 1,000+ jobs:

Amazon to build 2 Virginia Beach facilities, creating 1,000+ jobs

The Franklin Johnston Group now wants to develop the land and proposed the 'Silo at Southern Pines.'

They plan to put 176 units on roughly 6.3 acres and 30% of units are set to be workforce housing—a type of affordable housing sometimes referred to as middle-income or moderate-income housing.

"That workforce housing will be able to serve folks that do work at Sentara LifeNet, those working at the Amazon facility, making $17 to $19," said Fletcher. "This site specifically sits within the comprehensive plan's area of around the municipal center where they'd like to see us cluster high- to mid-density residential."

News Amazon to build 2 Virginia Beach facilities, creating 1,000+ jobs Angela Bohon 2:18 PM, Sep 25, 2023

Fletcher said residents can look to Renaissance next to the Renaissance Academy for an example of the group's approach to affordable housing.

If approved, the group said they'd be able to get a 30% density bonus from the City's Workforce Housing program, but added that no government subsidy is coming into the deal.

"Beyond that, this is the first workforce housing development that we're aware of that's a true workforce housing development, not approvals to build ADUs or otherwise, but true workforce housing that's down in that district that feeds into the school system," added Fletcher.

The project is close to NAS Oceana, and falls into the area that separates urban from rural areas. Since half the property lies in an area where residential structures of that density can't be built, the developer had to alter the project to fit in a smaller footprint. The latest design depicts some buildings at four stories with a proposed turn lane into the development off of Princess Anne Road.

Developers said the Navy approved of the latest plan.

"But consistently the feedback they're getting from the community is to limit that building below the green line," said Lisa Hartman, who lives nearby the property in Virginia Beach. "And this is below the green line."

Neighbors in the area told News 3 they have three main concerns: the density of the project, the precedent this project sets for the rest of the city, and how fast it's moving through the city's required steps for approval. They said the area needs workforce housing, if it fits with the restrictions on the land.

"I'm not opposed to any development in Virginia Beach, workforce housing, but . . . is this the appropriate piece of land for the density and height they're putting in here?" said Michele Lane of Virginia Beach.

"I just want it to follow the comprehensive plan," said Hartman. "Follow the comprehensive plan in the Princess Anne Corridor Study and ensure it's a smart development because we are left with whatever is built. And that's really the concern that it's not well-thought out. I think it's being pushed through."

"This is going to planning very quickly, and six days later and going to council when you have residents just slowly finding out about this," added Lane.

News Virginia Beach reacts to plans for 2 new Amazon centers Angela Bohon 5:55 PM, Sep 26, 2023

Developers told News 3 they submitted the project for initial review in May.

"A six-month time frame, or there about, is pretty typical," said Fletcher.

"The company has done everything it can do to put the right project, following the specs, everything from the planning commission and following the guidelines to move forward," added Chance Wilson, head of affordable housing initiatives, Franklin Johnston Group.

Wilson added that affordable housing projects are often controversial.

"It's a double-edge sword," said Wilson. "It's controversial at one end, but you know you need it at the same time. [A lot of people say] we don't need it now, let's wait, let's put it back. But, we are moving forward with what the city says they want to do."

The Virginia Beach Planning Commission is set to hold a public hearing to address the project on Oct. 11.

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Developer proposes workforce housing project in Virginia Beach, some residents are unhappy (2024)


What is workforce housing in VA? ›

The Workforce Dwelling Unit (WDU) Homebuyer Program provides a means for qualified homebuyers earning between 70 and 120 percent the Area Median Income (AMI) to purchase a home at below-market prices near employment centers and transportation options.

What is the Virginia Housing Program? ›

Virginia Housing is a self-supporting, not-for-profit organization created by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1972 to help Virginians attain quality, affordable housing. Virginia Housing provides mortgages, primarily for first-time homebuyers and developers of quality rental housing.

Who qualifies for HUD housing in Virginia? ›

Eligibility. Eligibility for Subsidized Housing is based on several factors, which may include, but is not limited to: Income: HUD defines low-income individuals and families as meeting 80% of the median income of their county or metropolitan area.


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