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Chalk Hot Dog Crosswalk in the Arts District

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Neon District
NEON festival
Photo by Downtown Norfolk Council of NEON Festival

Norfolk's NEON Arts District is a mixture of iconic anchors such as Chrysler Museum of Art, the Chrysler Glass Studio, and Harrison Opera House; an explosion of outdoor art from building-size murals, sidewalk patterns, and sculptures; a comedy club, fine-dinning, fun dinning, furniture and other retail shops; still-empty storefronts waiting for the unusual or elegant; The Plot - a community space that comes to life during festivals and community events.  

The NEON District is best experienced on foot - and there is no better time that the annual NEON Festival - a four-day indoor/outdoor event filled with music and other entertainment. Food trucks, beer garden and performances throughout the district; it takes place each October.  

 History of Norfolk's Arts District

Team Better Block partnered with the City of Norfolk within the Downtown area to implement the first Better Block demonstration project within the city in April 2013. The demonstration project was used as planning and infrastructure tool to guide the development of a new zoning district, the Downtown Arts and Design district north of Brambleton Avenue.

Through the work of over 130 volunteers and community leaders, this two day demonstration provided critical data to begin the implementation of zoning changes and an infrastructure plan to support its transformation into the city’s Arts District.

As a result of this demonstration project, the Arts District not only was implemented, but has proven a success: approximately 90% of the buildings within this once largely neglected district is now under contract to be occupied or fully leased. This Better Block served as a successful guide for not only the city, but to community leaders in other distressed traditional commercial corridors in the city to stage Better Blocks within their own communities to showcase their potential.