Ready or not, Fort Monroe is going on the market.
The 585-acre former military site, carved up into various parcels, still has shared ownership with the U.S. Army and now the National Parks Service.
However, the Fort Monroe Authority is ready to move forward with redevelopment plans.
To that end, the authority is preparing to send out requests for qualifications and statements of interest to developers, seeking to offer long-term leases, from 40 to 99 years, on the commercial buildings it owns.
The authority would also offer up sections of Reeder Circle apartments, which has both occupied and unoccupied units, if a developer showed interest.
Members of the authority’s Board of Trustees met Wednesday, the first of a two-day retreat, to tour select buildings along Ingalls Road, the Training and Doctrine Command complex, Reeder Circle apartments and Fort Monroe marina. The tour also looked at parcels now owned by the National Parks Service.
On Thursday, the board members will convene its regular meeting, which takes place at the Bay Breeze Conference Center, beginning at 8:30 a.m. It is open to the public.
While no formal vote will be taken, the board will hash out the details of how it can begin to move properties into the marketplace and how RFQs would be structured.
As the authority hunts for new revenue, the tour was intended to highlight the benefits and challenges of the next step, Fort Monroe Authority Executive Director Glenn Oder said.
“Our goal for this retreat is to really get you engaged into the discussion as board members,” Oder said Wednesday. “We’re going to ask you questions and tell you what our recommendations are.”
The tour also included an update on the planned $8 million Visitor and Education Center, a brief stop at the Fort Monroe Theater, and a visit to some historic spots such as Quarters No. 1.
Some buildings could easily be converted into office space or become more residential leases. He said the authority could welcome qualifications for hotels, bed and breakfast business, or other recreational, retail or mix-used development.
He said one of the biggest challenges with any proposal is parking.
“Keep in mind … we’ve already struggled with things like parking,” Oder told the board. “It’s obvious to us parking will be one of our biggest impediments as we talk about moving properties into the marketplace. … That’s going to be a big challenge.”
The marina, an early stop on the tour, needs repairs to a wave screen and some of the slips, Oder said. Despite the issues, he wanted the board to consider its possible uses for long-term leasing.
“You all own this marina now, at least the part you are standing on,” Oder said. “This is a very, very desirous location but it will take a significant investment to make it what it really could be … so that is the kind of partner we are looking for in sending out the RFQs.”
Board members had some questions. Dustry Jarvis wanted to know when the U.S. Army plans to transfer the rest of the land. Oder tossed the question to John Hutcheson, the authority’s director of finance.
“I don’t know,” was Hutcheson’s quick response. He said a lot the paperwork is still being processed with the U.S. Army, he did offer, “I’m happy to say the environmental remediation process is done.”
Other board members expressed faith in the future plans.
“I am really, really excited about where we are headed for the future to find qualified people … to restore the place and make it come alive,” Board Member John Reynolds said. “It’s possible, it’s going to take a lot of work, but it’s possible.”
The authority, which receives a state general fund allocation of roughly $4.9 million annually, has struggled to find steady revenue sources.
To date, the authority collects approximately $3.5 million in income and fees a year through its residential and commercial business leasing. Other revenue sources include Department of Transportation funds from Hampton, Casemate Museum fees, special event income and other grants.
The U.S. Army moved out of Fort Monroe in 2011, consolidating its operations at Fort Eustis.
Article courtesy of Daily Press. Original can be found here.