EPA’s 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement: Destination Portsmouth, Portsmouth, VA

EPA’s 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement: Destination Portsmouth, Portsmouth, VA


[music] Paul Holt:
Almost a decade ago the people of this city created a vision for its future. They envisioned
the city to be a vibrant, mixed use, sustainable community where folks could live, work, and
play. Destination Portsmouth is the next step in the realization of that vision. Portsmouth
has successfully done what thousands of communities across the U.S. are hoping to do; a full rewrite
of our land use regulations that allow for our city to implement our communities vision;
a vision of smarter, more sustainable growth. Kenneth Chandler: When I think of one person
who will benefit from the foundational elements of Destination Portsmouth it really makes
me think of 95,000 citizens because when you think about the ability to have sustainable,
livable development in your community just by changing some of your regulations it’s
to the benefit of all. Paul Holt: By rezoning the entire city Destination Portsmouth gives
residents a choice on where to build their homes, and allows them to connect back to
our downtown corridor. People can now choose to build their homes on vacant lots like these
and in neighborhoods that are within walking distance to schools, amenities, and downtown
businesses rather than being forced to build out in the suburbs. Kenneth Chandler: The
code really established a new foundation for the city. Paul Holt: One of the biggest areas
of the city where we hope the Destination Portsmouth codes will make a big difference
are here on London Boulevard which is currently a commercial
corridor and a limited access highway. The new codes will have developers add in street
trees, pedestrian scale lighting, and new bike lanes so when near future residential
development begins it will transform this area into a mixed use livable portion of the
city that has a lot of connectivity to our existing urban fabric. Kenneth Chandler: So
it becomes extremely exciting, again, for the sustainable development piece to attract
more people to that general area. You know, it’s the things that really help crime go
down because you have a presence of people. Paul Holt: So I’m here on High
Street and a couple of the great things that we hope to see in the near future under the
Destination Portsmouth framework include all new infill redevelopment consisting of mixed
use buildings that have residential dwelling units, office space, and all new commercial
and for a multi-modal corridor we hope to have bike lanes along all of the streets and
even in the near future some mass transit. Kenneth Chandler: Where somebody now has the
opportunity to, kind of, associate with where they work. Actually live above, you know,
where they eat their dinner and then they can actually walk their dog that evening,
you know, down the same street and really bring life to the street that normally was
closed about 6:00 in the evening. Paul Holt: Coming from our industrial past, one of our
greatest opportunities now is going to be our waterfront. The codes work to preserve
the Chesapeake Bay by reducing storm water runoff and enhancing water quality by eliminating
large surface parking lots and by promoting low impact development solutions to prevent
pollution from going back into the waterways. We are now, instead of turning our backs to
the river, we are now able to use those for some real high quality, premium areas for
redevelopment that most other cities don’t have as a natural feature. Kenneth Chandler:
You know, with the military presence that we have here; the coast guard, the navy, one
of the older naval shipyards here as well, it really has created an opportunity for folks
to be able to live, work, and play here. Paul Holt: So the destination Portsmouth plans
absolutely represent a huge leap forward in offering our existing residents and new residents
choices that they didn’t have before to come live back downtown, to come live back in old
historic neighborhoods, and these new residential homes coupled with improvements we’re making
along city streets are going to allow folks to make those living choices they didn’t have
as an option before. [music] [end of transcript]

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