Newport News day center for homeless passes hurdle

Reema Amin

The City Council took the next step this Tuesday in bringing a homeless day center to the city.

Council members voted to support sending in an application that would allow the city to make the Marine Reserve Center, at 7401 Warwick Blvd., a place where the homeless can take showers, find stable housing and seek help from city agencies.

Since the reserve center is a federal building, the city must ask the Department of Health and Human Services to use it, according to City Manager Jim Bourey.

The building has been vacant for about two and a half years. It was placed on the Federal Register this August as a property that can be turned into a center to accommodate those who are homeless, according to the register.

Council members have supported creating a day service center since July 2015 and approved a zoning amendment to allow that this January. But until this fall, no specific location had been identified.

It was unclear when the city will hear back about their application. It must be submitted by Dec. 19.

Tourism office to open in City Center

City Center is about to get a new resident.

The city's Tourism Development Office will open a ground-level office at 702 Town Center Drive, according to City Manager Jim Bourey. The City Council approved a request to go forward with a lease agreement for the space on Tuesday.

Getting the space ready for the new tenants may take at least six months, said Florence Kingston, director of economic development. An exact move-in date wasn't clear on Thursday.

The lease runs for 10 years and is for an initial annual cost of $71,016, with an annual rent escalation of 2 percent, according to Bourey's memo to council members.

Bourey said the office needs a more visible space. There's a visitor center at Newport News Park, but for the past two or three years, the city has been looking for a place where it can have a clearer presence, he said. Some employees from the park office will move to City Center once it opens.

"A street presence for NNTDO allows the public greater accessibility and opportunity to view NNTDO's marketing displays and materials, and allows NNTDO to better promote and market tourism in the City," he wrote to council members.

Amin can be reached by phone at 757-247-4890.

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette