2 thoughts on “Pilot Editorial: Store closings put Norfolk at crossroads

  1. One is tempted to say it was inevitable, and to try to explain why. There’s also the temptation to remember the past, what we had before the mall. A more adventurous temptation is to contemplate the puzzle city planners thought the mall would solve, and try to solve it better.

    I tend to see the mall’s failure to thrive as Norfolk’s failure to thrive. As a native and a resident for more than half a century, I have never experienced a booming economy here, just short bursts of real estate activity from time to time. I can’t quite put my finger on why.

    Obviously, the Navy’s presence is a factor. Were Naval Station Norfolk an industrial facility it would generate vastly more income for us than it does. On the other hand, more money doesn’t really sound like the obvious issue to be concerned about.

    People used to ask, What is it about Norfolk that makes it vaguely, yet discernibly, odd? Explanations ranged from the cultural to the technological. We have a particularly high concentration of microwave and radio transmissions here, for example.

    I think city planners would do well to invest more, and more creatively, in our schools. That’s a perennial puzzle, too, just like the question, Why is the mall closing?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have lived here since 1972 when I left the Navy and married a girl and set down roots. A familiar story for many that live here.

    Norfolk, in my opinion, has done quite well considering the restraints imposed upon by the federal government and it borders. It missed a chance to expand by absorbing Princess Ann County and then Norfolk County, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake respectively. Norfolk leaders at that time were slow and or short sighted and were out-maneuvered politically. I can only imagine what a boom it might have been had Norfolk, and Portsmouth for that matter,

    True, it has never achieved star status, but then again, it has not bottomed out either like so many industrial towns in the rust belt.

    The military has been the steady hand on the till. We have come a long way from the “White Hat Lounge” and other bars and strip joints on Granby Street.

    Two major universities, a world class art museum, home of the Virginia Opera, a full time professional theater, great waterfront parks, vibrant downtown nightlife and living, pretty strong industrial park, one of the best minor league ballparks in the nation, one of the busiest commercial ports in the country and the list goes on.

    Perhaps the Naval Base would have been a thriving industrial area, but it might also have gone to seed as in many mid-sized cities in the country. As it is, there are 10’s of thousands military personnel between the ships and the bases with good pay and steady work. Not sure industry would have done much better.

    The mall? Malls are closing all over the nation. But for the years it was relatively busy, it helped boost the development of downtown restaurants, stores and living units.

    Better education? Always a good goal and Norfolk does have its share of problems in that area. Crime and public transportation are other areas that could use improvement, to be sure.

    Perhaps the fact the this area is off the I-95 corridor from Boston to Florida is not creating a great migration to the area. We are on the dead end of the I-64 spur.

    But sometimes slow and steady is much better that fast, furious and burnout.



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