New hotels, apartments and offices possible as Fort Monroe seeks developers to rehabilitate and reuse historic buildings
HAMPTON, Va., (WAVY) – Executives at Fort Monroe are hopeful that private developers can bring new uses to very old buildings on the grounds of one of Virginia’s national historic monuments.
Earlier this month, the Fort Monroe Authority issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of 14 buildings located on four different sections of the over 529-acre property. By presenting it as a âonce in a lifetimeâ opportunity, the hope is to preserve the buildings while supporting the overall vision of authority for the historic mixed-use community.
Many buildings are approaching or are already over 100 years old. The majority of them have been vacant since the departure of the US military in 2011.
“The Fort Monroe Authority over the past 10 years has increasingly accepted responsibility for this property,” Glenn Oder, executive director of the taxpayer-funded authority said Monday.
This responsibility includes maintaining the air circulation in the building, keeping it warm and keeping utilities connected.
âWe don’t want them to be put on the back burner,â Oder said.
Oder said one of the goals of the RFP is to remove this responsibility from the authority funded by the taxpayer. He adds that with the use of historic tax credits, a private developer can also make necessary building improvements at a lower cost.
âThey are not accessible to people with disabilitiesâ¦ most of them do not have an elevator. They have limited parking and they don’t have a lot of ladies’ toilets either, âOder said.
Regarding what might fit into the more than 300,000 square feet of space offered, Oder said the sky is the limit, as long as it’s “high quality” and up to Home Secretary’s standards. for treatment of historic goods.
Much of the RFP lists the possibilities for use in hospitality, residential, retail and office.
âWe want to give the opportunity to small businesses as well as large companies to come to Fort Monroe,â Oder said.
Fort Monroe has a long history dating back to the 1600s.
Known as Port Comfort 1619, it is recognized as the site where the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America. During the Civil War, it earned the nickname âFortress of Freedomâ as a place where fleeing slaves could find refuge.
For more than two centuries it was controlled by the United States Army and most recently housed the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Headquarters.
President Barack Obama proclaimed part of Fort Monroe a national monument in 2011 and today the destination is operated in partnership with the National Park Service.
No land will be sold as part of the redevelopment proposal. Instead, land leases will be granted to select developers, much like they are now.
Fort Monroe already has more than a dozen businesses and agencies renting out historic buildings, and many live in former military housing year-round.
âWe are not doing anything with residential properties, residential properties will remain the responsibility of the Fort Monroe Authority and we will continue to manage them as we have done,â Oder said.
They can just get new neighbors.
No new construction will be permitted as part of a proposal, and all proposals must take into account the governor’s decrees on sea level rise.
Oder said they can choose a developer for the four sites or divide them, depending on what is submitted.
Proposals are expected on February 1. Oder hopes that the authority can enter into negotiations with the developers next spring.
Oder said that ultimately Fort Monroe could be an attraction like the Historic Triangle, which is the area between Yorktown, Jamestown, and Williamsburg.
âWe have a $ 9 million visitor center, we have the bunker museum, we have the beaches, we have the walking trails, we have the fortress,â Oder said. âWe have so much to see now that allows an investor to enjoy the properties and be a part of what we do here, this vibrant historic mixed-use community. “