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Strategy Implementation Updates

Norfolk’s resilience strategy contains actionable recommendations to face and respond to our current and future challenges and capitalize on our strengths and opportunities. The actions that support the strategy are diverse, but all of them are a commitment to a new way of doing business—collective and coordinated action to build resilience. Below, you can learn about the initiatives that are already underway.

Goal 1: Design the coastal community of the future.

Ohio Creek Project - National Disaster Resilience Competition

Construction is about to begin on the Ohio Creek Project funded through a $112M HUD grant awarded to the Commonwealth of Virginia to construct transformational coastal improvements in Norfolk.  The Ohio Creek project is implementing a comprehensive flood mitigation project that integrates green and hard infrastructure that will improve neighborhood connectivity and access to the water.  To stay updated, click here 

City of Norfolk Zoning Ordinance Update
In 2018, the City of Norfolk completed a comprehensive rewrite of its Zoning Ordinance to position the city as the resilient coastal community of the future.  Norfolk’s new zoning code which took effect March 1, 2019 was rewritten to strengthen the City’s commitment to vibrant neighborhoods, economic diversity, and coastal resilience.  The zoning code contains a number of pioneering approaches in response to the long-term challenges posed by sea level rise, one of which is a requirement that all development within the City meet a resilient quotient.  To learn more about Norfolk’s new zoning code, click here. The City now is working with the US Army Corps of Engineers on the next phase of the study—Pre-Construction Engineering and Design.

Vision 2100
The City of Norfolk engaged in a citizen-led discussion to identify what principles the city should use to guide future land use decisions.  Vision 2100 lays out a strategy for dealing with sea level rise impacts using an 80-year time horizon.  Adopted by City Council as part of Norfolk’s Comprehensive Plan, Vision 2100 is guiding land use decisions in Norfolk today. Click here to view Norfolk Vision 2100.   

Citywide Coastal Storm Risk Management Study
In February 2019, the US Army Corps of Engineers Commanding General signed the Chief’s Report recommending the findings of Norfolk’s Coastal Storm Risk Management Study for congressional authorization.  The Study recommends $1.4B of structural and non-structural mitigation projects to reduce the risk to coastal storm flooding in the City of Norfolk.  To read the study’s finding click here.  

NATO hosts 2nd Resilience Conference in Norfolk
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General André Lanata, and the Mayor of the City of Norfolk, Kenneth Alexander, co-hosted a Resilience Conference from April 9th-10th, 2019. The aim of the conference was to increase understanding of civilian/military cooperation in preparing for hybrid/counter-terrorism events. The Resilience Conference brought together leaders from NATO, European Union nations as well as international experts and policy makers from all levels of government, public and private sectors. Click here to see videos and conference details.

Brownfield Redevelopment
One of our newest projects is addressing brownfield properties through a resilience lens. An older, industrial city, Norfolk once housed industries that employed hazardous substances, some of which may have leached into the land. Many of these industries, including steel production, creosote plants and rail yards, were located on Norfolk’s waterfront, including in the Harbor Park area of the city. Since 2015, Norfolk has been awarded $1 million worth of brownfield assessment, planning, and consulting services for Harbor Park. Read more about our brownfield redevelopment efforts here

Elizabeth Riverfront & Harbor Park Brownfields – Preliminary Constructability Plan
The City of Norfolk commissioned this report using funds from a Virginia Brownfields
Restoration and Economic Redevelopment Fund Commonwealth Planning grant. The report provides a design development strategy for improving infrastructure and ecological restoration that reflects the City’s resilience lens of living with water, economic diversification and community connectivity.

Using Technology to Build Resilient Communities
The City of Norfolk is taking advantage of a changing environment to build resilience by designing the coastal community of the future, connecting communities, and strengthening neighborhoods. The use of application programs, more commonly known as apps, is playing a significant role in helping the city reach these resilience goals. Click here to read about these apps.

StormSense is a project that was developed for the Global Cities Team Challenge (GCTC), which originated from the White House Smart Cities Initiatives. The GCTC is a collaborative network of project teams working on groundbreaking applications of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies within the smart city/community environment.  Norfolk is a core team member of regional cities, in partnership with Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), that make up this project team. Newport News, representing StormSense, was recently awarded a $75,000 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to install tide gauge sensors and expand VIMS flood modeling/forecasting capabilities. This project will provide an accurate regional map and forecast, enabling cities in the region to determine flood risk up to 36 hours in advance of storm events. It also will be able to provide real-time alerts and web mapping tools including, but not limited to, third party applications like Waze.

Water Level Monitoring System (WLMS) Pilot
The Water Level Monitoring System (WLMS) Pilot project is an innovative approach to gathering real-time water level data in frequently flooded intersections/streets around the Hague using tide gauge sensors. This data is then transmitted to a cloud -hosted database for analysis and storage using low-cost technology (LoRa-long range Wi-Fi) never attempted before in the State. While this pilot project is only a small-scale collection of water level data, it serves as the foundation of a “smart cities” system using innovative cost-effective technology which can be applied to other challenges facing Norfolk beyond flooding.

Dutch Dialogues
The Royal Netherlands Embassy, Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, and the cities of Norfolk, Newport News, and Hampton jointly hosted the Virginia Dutch Dialogues in June 2015 to generate innovative ideas for living with water. For Norfolk, these innovations included using water management as a way to protect and revitalize neighborhoods. 

Retain Your Rain
Norfolk residents learn how they can be part of building a more resilient Norfolk through a citywide, systemic approach to water management.

In collaboration with the Norfolk Master Gardeners, Bayview Civic League, Bay View Elementary, and Norfolk Master Naturalists, the City of Norfolk hosted its second Retain Your Rain workshop at Bay View Elementary School in Spring 2017! The green infrastructure installed by volunteers will capture 600 gallons of rainwater.

The City of Norfolk launched a Retain Your Rain Mini Grant Pilot last fall that offered up to $2,000 to a neighborhood organization to install green infrastructure. Northside Civic League's proposal for a 'rain retention food forest' was selected for the Pilot. In December, Northside Civic League planted the food forest at Mary Calcott Elementary School. The food forest will absorb over 3,000 gallons of stormwater in addition to providing fresh food and vegetables to the neighborhood. Read more. Watch a video.

Goal 2: Create economic opportunity by advancing efforts to grow existing and new industry sectors.

Norfolk Hosts Opportunity Zone Financing Charrette
The City of Norfolk held the first ever finance charrette in February 2019 to explore innovative financing approaches and investment opportunities in the St. Paul’s Area.  The charette brought together 70 representatives from public, private, state, philanthropic and private-wealth investment firms to think creatively about new financing models to make Norfolk’s St. Paul’s area vision of redeveloping an obsolete public housing community into a resilient mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood.  In March 2019, the City of Norfolk participate ed in the Opportunity Zone Investor Summit hosted by Accelerator for America in Palo Alto, California.  To learn more about Norfolk’s Opportunity Zone work, click here.  To learn more about Norfolk’s St. Paul’s Area Vision click here.

RE.bound Bonds
Investing in resilience is complicated. The City of Norfolk organized a workshop to discuss how to capture potential insurance benefits generated by specific coastal protection projects. 

Goal 3: Advance initiatives to connect communities, deconcentrate poverty, and strengthen neighborhoods.

St. Paul's Initiative
The St. Paul’s area is home to the region’s highest concentration of public housing with 1,674 aging units in three adjacent family public housing communities that have reached the end of their useful life.   The St. Paul’s area floods regularly and is further exacerbated by crumbling infrastructure.  Crime and lack of connectivity to the rest of the city creates a sense of physical, social and economic isolation in the community.  The City of Norfolk in partnership with neighborhood residents and the Norfolk Housing and Redevelopment Authority has developed a vision for St. Paul’s revitalization into one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city where families and residents from all income levels, races, ages and cultures can live, learn, work, play and thrive.  To learn more click here.  

Bank On
Bank On Norfolk has been essential in advancing our resilience goals by building economic resilience throughout Norfolk, resident by resident. Bank On Norfolk was established in January 2016, when the City partnered with Bank On Hampton Roads to bring free financial education classes to Norfolk citizens, a collaboration that also aligns with the Norfolk Plan to Reduce Poverty.  It is a rigorous, 10-month long course that partners students with volunteer coaches to improve their financial literacy, become fully-banked, and to develop strategies that lead participants to a brighter financial future.   

The first Bank On session offered saw 11 Norfolk citizens graduate, and to date Bank On Norfolk has held 8 classes, and has celebrated over 60 graduates.

Bank On Hampton Roads depends on community volunteers to make this program available to the public at no cost.  If you are interested in attending a Bank On class or becoming a volunteer instructor or coach, click here for more information.

Citywide Affordable Housing Study
In early 2017, the City of Norfolk concluded a Citywide Affordable Housing Study conducted by HR&A Advisors to provide a market analysis of Norfolk neighborhoods, assess the City’s housing needs, and offer realistic solutions to fulfill those needs. Based on the results of the study, two main goals were identified that form the basis of the City’s Affordable Housing Strategy: Strengthen neighborhoods and deconcentrate poverty. To achieve these goals, a comprehensive toolbox was created with various strategies and tools that will be geographically deployed in order to strengthen the housing market in targeted neighborhoods. These collaborative efforts are driving the implementation of our third resilience goal. Learn more. 

Strengthening Neighborhoods Pilot
The final phase of the Citywide Affordable Housing Study conducted in 2016-2017 included recommendations for strengthening neighborhoods. Beginning this year, the City will launch a pilot in targeted neighborhoods where the housing market is showing strength, but could tip toward weakness without proper investment. In these “tipping point neighborhoods” the city will deploy a series of tools designed to increase home ownership, promote small rental revitalization, and create new rental housing.  Existing city programs such as Renovate Norfolk, will be paired with new programs, such as Small Rental Rehabilitation, with the goal of moving the housing market in a positive direction.  

Contact Us

Office of Resilience 

501 Boush St. 
Norfolk, VA 23510

Ph: 757-441-2602

Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.