Yesterday during the afternoon City Council work sessio
n, Council members were provided with and briefed on the recommended rezoning of Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport property bounded by Jefferson Avenue and Brick Kiln Boulevard for a commercial development, The Plaza at Jefferson. Wegmans Food Market is the proposed anchor for the development.
The City’s 2030 Framework for the Future comprehensive transportation and land use plan would first need to be amended and then the property rezoned to allow for the proposed development of the 33 acre parcel of airport property.
Britta Ayers, the City’s Manager of Comprehensive Planning, Everett Skipper, Newport News Director of Engineering, and Newport News Airport Executive Ken Spirito, addressed land use, proposed traffic and runway protection zones for the property.
In addressing traffic, Skipper said, “In the 14 years that I have been working on projects, I have never been able to say that traffic will be better… until now.” Skipper was clear to say that traffic would increase but traffic movement would be better with the extension of Habersham Boulevard and the addition of another exit from I-64. Spirito assured Council that the development on the property would not be in the Runway Protection Zone or at risk for an airplane incident.
Dan Aken, Director of Real Estate and Site Development at Wegmans Food Markets, was asked, “Why Newport News [for the location]?” He said that Newport News has the “right demographics, the right density, and land available” to open one of the four stores Wegmans opens each year. He feels that the proposed development provides an excellent location and no other Newport News location is available that would meet their needs.
Aken described Wegmans as a family-owned, fourth generation run market that began in Rochester, NY from a push cart. If the market locates here, it would provide 500-600 people with jobs at an average wage of $12-20.00 per hour. Wegmans hire 90% of their staff locally and community support is given at the store level. Aken also indicated that the majority of prices would be at or below those of Walmart. Once all approvals are received, the market could potentially open in the Spring/Summer 2018. He also described the extensive charitable donations the store would give locally.
The Newport News Planning Commission at its semi-monthly meeting voted to recommend that City Council approve the amendment to the Framework for the Future Comprehensive Plan and a rezoning of the property for commercial development. City Council will vote on the amendment and rezoning at the May 10th City Council meeting.