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Vision for Fort Monroe taking shape
Walking or riding a bike through nature trails that wind through acres of vivid forests. Attending an animal habitats exhibit at a nature education center. Watching blue jays flutter across the sky at one of the top bird-watching sites in Virginia.
That's the Historic Preservation Advisory Group's vision for parts of Fort Monroe after the Army base closes in 2011.
On base at the Bay Breeze Community Center on Thursday, Jim Beard, the group's co-chairman, shared recommendations with the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority about what to do with the open space that makes up nearly half of the facility's 570 acres.
At the eastern edge of Hampton, Fort Monroe has been slated to be turned into a mix of residential, retail and office buildings. The plan also sets aside 220 acres as public green space, and about another 100 acres are classified as "undetermined."
Fort Monroe's closure was announced in 2005, and the Army will leave in 2011. Most of the land, which has unobstructed views of the Chesapeake Bay, will revert to the state. Notable historic properties on the site include the stone fort, the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse and The Chamberlin, a former hotel that is now an apartment complex targeted to senior citizens.
Advocates for creation of a national park at Fort Monroe to preserve the historical sites were given a nod of support from the Hampton City Council on Wednesday night. The council adopted a resolution that it was committed to continued recognition and protection of the fort's status as a National Historic Landmark.
"There's going to be some development, but we are committed to keeping Fort Monroe open and protecting the 400 years of history here," Bill Armbruster, the development authority's executive director, said at the meeting.
Other recommendations that Beard proposed for the open space was to host festivals and sporting events, have an open beach and add boat launches.
The authority's consultants estimate that the total capital investment for the redevelopment of Fort Monroe would cost about $500 million. The consultants also predict that Fort Monroe's cultural and recreational activities could attract about 225,000 visitors annually and open about 3,000 jobs to the area.
Jaedda Armstrong, (757) 222-5846, email@example.com