Waterside (Norfolk, Virginia)

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Waterside, viewed from the Waterside Drive pedestrian bridge

The Waterside, a festival marketplace on the Elizabeth River in downtown Norfolk, Virginia, opened June 1, 1983.[1] A critical component of Norfolk's ongoing post-WWII revitalization, the complex connects via a cross-street pedestrian bridge to a parking garage, sits at the foot of the Portsmouth Ferry terminal, and connects via a waterfront promenade to the downtown, the nearby baseball stadium (Harbor Park), naval museum (Nauticus) and waterfront neighborhood of Freemason Harbor.

Beginning in the late 1970s, mall-developer James W. Rouse and the Rouse Company had conceived the festival marketplace (e.g., Norfolk's Waterside) as an important component to redeveloping a declining downtown, a seminal catalyst to further development. The concept combined to varying degrees major restaurants, specialty retail shops, food courts and nightlife activities.

Like other shopping centers, malls and marketplaces, the Waterside has evolved through numerous business cycles. Originally, Waterside featured mostly restaurants on the first floor with a few niche stores, as well as an arcade. The balconied second floor featured more niche stores and kiosks. A second phase was added to the complex in the 1980s, while the mid-1990s saw a decline in business, mitigated by the opening of nearby MacArthur Center. In the early-2000s, the upstairs stores were replaced by nightclubs, such as Jillian's. The center currently hosts restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse, Joe's Crab Shack, and Hooters, as well as its original food court.

The Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority purchased the Waterside from its private owner, Enterprise Real Estate Services, in 1999,[1] at the time considered a temporary arrangement.[1] The Waterside delivered approximately $2.2 million in tax revenue in 2007,[1] down $300,000 since 2004.[1] Norfolk will subsidize the facility with $1 million in 2008[1] and currently is studying the next phase of the marketplace's repositioning.[1]

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  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Norfolk's aging, ailing Waterside confronts a shaky future". Meghan Hoyer, The Virginian-Pilot©, March 29, 2008. 

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Coordinates: 36°50′40″N 76°17′29″W / 36.84444°N 76.29139°W / 36.84444; -76.29139