July 13, 2010
City Announces Partnership to Acquire Pleasure House Point
Plans include environmental education center and preservation of open space
(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA)—Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. announced today that the 122-acre property known as Pleasure House Point may be acquired and protected under terms of a deal between Wells Fargo bank and The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national environmental group. The property has been a top city open-space priority for a decade. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and The Trust for Public Land plan to partner with the city to pull together funding to meet the $13 million purchase price.
Pleasure House Point, located just west of the Lesner Bridge and south of the Chesapeake Bay, is at the confluence of Pleasure House Creek and Crab Creek, overlooking the Lynnhaven River. The property's owner, L.M. Sandler & Sons, had planned to build a large waterfront development there known as Indigo Dunes.
"Thanks to The Trust for Public Land, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the citizens of Virginia Beach, we have a plan to save the vast majority of Pleasure House Point from development," Mayor Sessoms said. "The strength of this partnership gives us the best chance yet to preserve this unique property. Our persistence is paying off!"
Vice Mayor Louis R. Jones, who represents the Bayside area of the city, added, "Pleasure House Point will continue as a stunning environmental treasure—a lasting legacy. The effort to save Pleasure House Point is another example of how collaboration can be a great thing."
Under the plan, Wells Fargo, the lender on the property, will take the site, and TPL would buy it from Wells Fargo if the partners can raise $13 million by December. TPL would then sell most of the land to the city for open space preservation and public access to the Lynnhaven River. This may require the use of up to $5 million from the city's Open Space Funds.
Another portion of the site would be sold to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for use as an environmental-education center. TPL also would make available part of the site fronting Shore Drive for commercial and other development, if additional conservation funding cannot be found.
"The Trust for Public Land is very pleased to be in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the City of Virginia Beach on this important conservation effort," said Kent Whitehead, the trust's Chesapeake Project Director. "The opportunity to acquire this top community open-space priority, and allow the public greater access to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, should be seized. We greatly appreciate Wells Fargo's willingness to sell this land for open space."
Christy Everett, Hampton Roads Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said, "The foundation is very excited to be part of this important and unique opportunity to conserve one of the largest undeveloped tracts remaining on the Lynnhaven waterfront. For some time, CBF has investigated the potential for creating a green environmental/education center for the Hampton Roads community. Ideally, with sufficient resources, we could make that a reality on a portion of this site. We are eager to celebrate and protect our waterways through an education center in Hampton Roads and by continuing good work with admirable partners strongly committed to protecting local water quality, such as Lynnhaven River NOW."
The city anticipates working with citizens and partner groups to develop a plan for use of the public open space, building on the city's existing plans to improve water quality in the Lynnhaven watershed, including a return of the famous Lynnhaven Oyster fishery.
"The site has been identified by the city for nearly the past decade as a top priority for open space acquisition to preserve and enhance the existing riparian and maritime forest habitat and provide public access to the Lynnhaven River shoreline," said Cindy Curtis, director of Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation. "We are thrilled this opportunity has arisen."