Friday, December 1, 2023

City Council votes to create agreement with Dome Site developer

A rendering of The Wave complex, which could be developed as part of the Dome Site project (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Venture Realty Group)
A rendering of The Wave complex, which could be developed as part of the Dome Site project (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Venture Realty Group)

VIRGINIA BEACH — City Council voted 9-1 Tuesday to formalize a development agreement for the construction of the Pharrell Williams-backed Dome Site development.

With the vote, City Council approved the non-binding term sheet laying out what an agreement between the city and the developer, Venture Realty Group, will look like. The resolution also requests that the Virginia Beach Development Authority approve and execute the deal on the city’s behalf, as well as the development of “definitive project documents.”

Those documents include a development agreement, which will be the formal contract authorizing the development’s construction. Venture and the VBDA will also craft a support agreement, which will detail who pays for what, including publicly-funded incentives.

Councilwoman Jessica Abbott was the lone “no” vote on the project. Councilman John Moss, Abbott’s political ally on council, was absent due to pneumonia, Mayor Bobby Dyer said. Moss likely would have voted with Abbott against the project, as he typically rails against public-private investments like the Dome Site project.

The Dome site vote was one of the first major projects voted on my new members of City Council.

Councilman David Nygaard, who represents the Beach District, reminded those at the meeting that Tuesday was not the final vote on the project, and to remain engaged.

Related story: Here’s a breakdown of funding for the Oceanfront Dome site development

The mixed-use development of the site — consisting of the Wave, a 3,500-seat live entertainment venue, retail spaces, as well as hundreds of residential units — won’t come cheap.

Under conditions of the term sheet, the city is poised to invest more than $200 million in taxpayer money for the project over the next two decades.

Now that council has decided to move forward, the VBDA and Venture will enter a “pre-development period,” during which “all parties will agree to jointly fund the design of the project,” according to the resolution.

A public hearing on the Dome Site project preceded the vote, with more than two dozen people speaking for and against the Surf Park.

Council chambers were standing room only for the public hearing on the Dome Site. The room was so full that Mayor Bobby Dyer announced the chamber was past fire code capacity and asked some people to step out. Many of those in attendance wore matching blue t-shirts with The Wave’s logo which read “We’re on Board.”

Virginia Beach resident Mary Linn posed a colorful question about those supporting the project.

“Did they legalize marijuana in the City of Virginia Beach,” Linn asked, “because I am seriously questioning the sobriety of anyone that thinks this is a good idea.”

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