Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Developers Have Opportunity to Help Reimagine Four Historic Sites

The Fort Monroe Authority is offering the opportunity for redevelopers to help reimagine four historic sites on its property (Courtesy of Fort Monroe Authority)

FORT MONROE — The Fort Monroe Authority (FMA) is offering developers the opportunity to help reimagine four historic sites on its property.

According to a Nov. 15 from FMA, it is seeking developers who have experience in adaptive reuse of historic buildings in order to participate in FMA’s redevelopment of the active, mixed-use community.

In a report entitled, “Reimagine the Future of Fort Monroe,” it states that there are several priorities in the reimagining of the use of the historic properties:

  1. Adaptive reuse of historic structures that adheres to the Fort Monroe Historic Preservation Manual and Design Standards and other requirements in order to maintain the historic integrity of the buildings.
  2. Exemplary land use planning that will be indicative of the mixed use community.
  3. Provide a sustainable revenue for the community, region, and state.
  4. Embrace with National Park Service, which manages a portion of the property to include historic interpretation experiences.
  5. Implement the vision of the FMA

Further guidelines for potential developers can be found by clicking here.

The property served as a continuous strategic military location since its founding in 1607 as Cape Comfort. The Old Point Comfort Lighthouse that still stands at the fort was constructed in 1802 during President Thomas Jefferson’s administration. It is noted as the oldest structure on the property. Fort Monroe was founded during the nineteenth century as is most notably remembered as “Freedom’s Fortress” because, in 1861, U.S. Major General Benjamin F. Butler transformed the fort into a safe haven for runaway slaves as “contraband of war” so they would not be returned to their owners under the guise of the Fugitive Slave Act.

In 2011, Fort Monroe was closed as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act. In 2013, President Barack Obama declared a portion of the former military facility a National Monument. In early 2021, “Freedom’s Fortress” was declared a Site of Memory by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and is associated with the organization’s UNESCO Slave Route Project. The project includes more than fifty other sites and entities linked to the history of the Transatlantic slave trade.

Today, Fort Monroe is managed as a joint partnership between the FMA, Commonwealth of Virginia, and the National Park Service. It serves as a vibrant community with historic architecture the Casemate Museum (which has been operating since 1951), outdoor recreation spaces including beaches, and a variety of public programs, events, and educational experiences throughout the year.

A rendering of the future pier and bar area for the Marina District at Fort Monroe (Courtesy of Pack Brothers Hospitality of Smithfield)

Earlier this year, the Pack Brothers Hospitality of Smithfield was awarded the right to develop a designated section of the property into the Marina District, located at the southwest edge of the Fort and adjacent to The Chamberlin. The proposed development would include a 500-seat restaurant, 250-person conference center, a 90-room boutique hotel, and a 300-slip remodeled marina.

The planned restaurant, called 37 North, would repurpose the fort’s Old Torpedo Storehouse and Old Cable Tank Building. The menu would focus on seafood, steak, and regional favorites and include an indoor bar with over 100 beers on tap, featuring both local and national brews.

To learn more, please visit the website for Reimagine the Future of Fort Monroe.

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