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A technology vision for Fort Monroe's future
By Bill Cresenzo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatever the future holds for Fort Monroe in Hampton after the U.S. Army leaves in September, the authority that is now in charge of the base wants to make sure it doesn't become a ghost town.
Last week, Technology Hampton Roads suggested that when the Army leaves, the commonwealth, which is taking over the fort, should work to recruit a technological giant such as Google or Apple to set up headquarters there.
Pointing to the Presidio in San Francisco, a former fort that is now a national park and a movie studio, the group says that Fort Monroe, already equipped with the technological infrastructure that a company would need, would be a perfect place for a tech campus.
Also last week, a bill was submitted to the U.S. Senate that would designate Fort Monroe as a national park.
Bill Armbruster, the executive director of the Fort Monroe Authority, said that the idea of turning part of the fort into a technological campus is a good one.
"This is an idea that we would certainly welcome," he said. "It makes great sense."
Armbruster has served as executive director of the Fort Monroe Authority since July 2010, when it was formed as an arm of the state. Armbruster and a 12-member board of trustees are charged with guiding the state's decisions about the future of the historic fort.
The fort was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1969. Right now about 500 people live there in 282 housing units, Armbruster said. On any given day, up to 4,000 people are on the base.
Under the Fort Monroe Reuse Plan, the authority has voted to endorse a boundary that would designate the entire 565-acre fort as a national park.
However, within those boundaries, the park would be divided into two areas - one would be managed by the National Park Service, the other would be managed by the Fort Monroe Authority.
Under the reuse plan, the authority has five main goals for the fort:
The authority says that annual operations costs at the fort could top $4.4 million. The authority is also pondering a tourism strategy, with estimates indicating that between 225,000 and 275,000 people will visit the fort each year.
"A resort hotel of 120 to 150 rooms, designed to evoke the scale and character of the former Hygeia Hotel, can potentially be supported as part of the cultural and recreational experience," the authority said.
The authority has a property management company called Old Point Comfort Real Estate Service that, right now, has 27 homes available and in August, it is releasing another 147 homes to rent.