Downtown Norfolk Retail Strategy

In 2021, the DNC embarked on study to assess the current conditions of Downtown Norfolk's retail ecosystem. Staff worked with national retail experts Streetsense to create a comprehensive retail strategy that delineates the ideal retail mix and size for Downtown, backed by market-driven research and stakeholder input. With Downtown Norfolk’s appealing character, historic assets, and a strong pedestrian core, there is ample opportunity to "right size" retail, attract consumers and address current trends. These recommendations, a market analysis, and more can be found in the Downtown Norfolk Retail Strategy.

Retail Work Plan

After successfully writing a framework for the future of retail, DNC distilled the strategy into a priority-driven action plan. Priority projects were culled from 18 project recommendations, and each was subject to additional due diligence, including conversations with impacted stakeholders, assessment of resource availability, that led to further refinements. The final four priority initiatives were selected following the adoption of the retail strategy plan and in collaboration with DNC staff and the Board of Directors. View the Retail Work Plan here.

The following initiatives reflect recommendations from the Retail Strategy Plan:

  • Implement quality tenant Signage along priority streets through the creation of;
    • A blade signage program that offers design assistance and grant support to local retailers and restaurants
    • Distribution of A frame signs to businesses along Granby Street
    • Installation of a large temporary banner sign to attract visitors to DNC’s Selden Market
  • Update Ground Floor Zoning by redefining primary streets throughout Downtown
    • Current zoning requirements for “active” ground floor space further exacerbate retail oversupply
    • Refine the Downtown zoning standards to allow for micro-manufacturing and current trends in the retail sphere
  • Improve the holistic Parking experience from arrival in Downtown to departure
    • Downtown Norfolk has ample supply of parking, the opportunity is in aesthetic concerns, navigability and the customer experience
    • Solutions are in development in partnership with City of Norfolk’s Parking Department and DNC’s Parking Taskforce
  • Advance targeted Public Realm improvements and activation that brings family-friendly activity to Downtown
    • Provide linkages between existing and new public spaces and encourage connectivity in a focused area around MacArthur Center, Market Street and Tidewater Community College
    • Develop activation plan with MacArthur Center, residents and stakeholders for MacArthur Green that focuses on free or low-cost, fun and recreational activities. Click here for the Request for Proposals and to submit.
  • Advocate for the simplification of Norfolk’s Outdoor Dining application process with a single agency that holds a clear set of rules and enforcement mechanisms
    • On the heels of a successful Open Norfolk pandemic assistance program, the public has shown a vast appetite for outdoor dining.
    • Create a permanent “streatery” program for the right of way in Downtown that has clear design guidelines
  • Establish a Media Vault with high quality imagery for promotion and marketing purposes
    • Create a publicly accessible media database for use by businesses and influencers
    • Use professional photography to counterbalance negative stories about Downtown