From the Newport News, Va., Daily Press
Developers make their plea for Buckroe

By Matthew Sturdevant | 247-7874
    March 12, 2009

HAMPTON - — One developer is offering $1 million for the four-acre lot. Another guarantees overseeing the project from the first shovel in the ground to the last house sold. A third developer has a track record of more than 500 homes built in Hampton and promises a Parade of Homes.

During a City Council workshop Wednesday afternoon, three different development teams each gave a plan to turn an empty four-acre lot in Buckroe into a park-side residential block with views of the Chesapeake Bay.

The city solicited proposals over the Christmas-New-Year's holiday and three developers replied.

Architectural renderings from the developers showed three-story buildings in bright colors. It was the first time the public had an opportunity to look at the plans. The council met in closed session, but hasn't decided anything yet.

The three interested developers are: Betty Kay "B.K." Allen of BA Realty Advisors; Tommy Thompson of Harrison & Lear who is teamed with Peninsula Housing & Builders Association; and Norfolk natives and former NFL players turned developers William Fuller of Fulco Inc. and Bruce Smith of Bruce Smith Enterprises.

Mayor Molly Joseph Ward set the ground rules at the beginning. Each team would get 15 minutes to give their proposal, during which time the competing developers were required to step out of the room.

Each made their pitch. The plans were similar in some respects – each met requirements in the city master plan for the block in question, the former Todd's Cottages site at the southeast corner of Pembroke Avenue and Mallory Street.

Each plan also follows the city's Pattern Book — a list of architectural and site-plan guidelines.

City plans show that block becoming a mix of single-family homes and condominiums in mansion-style buildings that feature a single front door.

Fuller said his team's proposal includes four mansion-style condominium buildings, which will each have four units. They also plan 14 single-family homes on Pembroke and Point Comfort avenues. In the middle will be green space. The homes are tentatively priced at $325,000 to $425,000.

Fuller said his team is ready to go to work immediately, and unlike the other two developers his team is also building the homes rather than developing infrastructure on the site and selling lots to individual home builders.

Fuller guaranteed his team's goal is to offer an "unwavering commitment from the first shovel in the ground to the last home sold."

Allen said she is planning two mansion-style buildings which will have eight units total, three mansion-style town-home buildings which will have 11 units total, five duplexes for a total of 10 units and 11 single-family homes. All will have rear-loaded parking, as per the city's master plan. The price range will be $300,000 to $475,000. She said she will offer $1million for the land and the development will be $15 million in value.

Allen touted her working with the Buckroe Civic Association and Buckroe Improvement League to get their opinion of her plans for the area. She also has a contract to buy most of the land between Seaboard and Point Comfort avenues, from 2nd Street south to Resort Boulevard, which includes a motel and Gordon's Trailer Court.

In defense of her plan to use multiple home builders, Allen said each home will be different.

"We don't want to homogenize Buckroe," Allen said.

Councilman George Wallace asked Allen her weakness.

"Well, it's come to be very obvious to me in this city that some people think if you're a woman you can't do this," Allen said.

Thompson is the developer who originally submitted plans late last year to the city. He has been working on a Parade of Homes concept for the property since last summer. The Parade is a showcase of homes by different builders. Typically, each builder loads up a home with amenities because it's a competition among contractors and a way to show off their best quality work to potential customers, Thompson said.

All of the homes would be finished by May 2010 for a showcase expected to draw about 25,000 visitors, he said.

In defense of the fact that he is developing the land and selling parcels to home builders, he said each home builder has provided a letter of commitment that lending is available.

The price value of homes will be between $350,000 and $600,000 although the best turn-around time for homes are those selling at about $400,000, and the market will drive what is built.

"The genius of the Parade is they're all finished the same day, and then you have an opening," Thompson said.

The Parade would be on half of the block nearest to Pembroke Avenue. He expects the entire site to be built in 2.5 years.

The plans

Betty Kay "B.K." Allen of BA Realty Advisors

Offering $1million for the four-acre lot and building homes expect to add $15million to the tax roll. She also plans to have "space station" technology in each home, such as a laundry gadget that doesn't require detergent.

William Fuller of Fulco Group and Bruce Smith Enterprises

Offering 14 single-family homes and four mansion-style buildings which would each have four condo units. In addition to developing the site, they also plan to build the homes, unlike the other two developers.

Tommy Thompson of Harrison & Lear and Peninsula Housing & Builders Association

Offering a Parade of Homes which would be a showcase of houses built by different contractors. The Parade typically includes homes that have high-end perks and attracts about 25,000 spectators during the showcase, tentatively scheduled for May 2010.
From the Newport News, Va., Daily Press
Northern Virginia developer B.K. Allen has big plans for Buckroe

By Matthew Sturdevant | 247-7874
    March 8, 2009

HAMPTON - — Developer and commercial Realtor Betty Kay "B.K." Allen and her husband visited the area around Buckroe Beach more than 20 years ago and they liked what they saw.

When it came time to find a place to retire from Northern Virginia, they looked at Salt Ponds, just north of Buckroe. About four years ago, they closed on a town home in Salt Ponds where Allen lives several months of the year. The town house is temporary until Allen builds a home for herself and her husband inside a residential development just south of Buckroe Beach Park.

Allen said she has a contract to buy most of the land between Seaboard and Point Comfort avenues, from 2nd Street South to Resort Boulevard. Locals may remember that two-block property was for sale by auction in 2007, but didn't sell. It includes a motel and Gordon's Trailer Court, which closed in September 2006.

Allen plans to build 128 residential units, including single-family homes, duplexes, town houses, condos for residents 55-and-older, and "stacked units" with one, two or three floors of living space. Allen wants to put 15,000 square feet of "community-service" retail there too. Retail possibilities include a restaurant, dry cleaner, a small service facility for a bank, a real-estate office or a snack shop.

She has already paid for environmental testing of the soil, engineering for utilities and a conceptual site plan.

"We're moving forward with that," Allen said of the development. "That's where my house is going to be."

Additionally, Allen is one of three developers interested in buying a city-owned block at the southeastern corner of East Pembroke Avenue and North Mallory Street. She wants to buy and build the property for some continuity in the neighborhood — to blend the new homes she plans to build with the existing homes in the rest of the neighborhood.

She's not the only one interested in building on that lot.

Last year, Tommy Thompson of Harrison & Lear along with the Peninsula Housing & Builders Association gave Hampton's Economic Development Department plans for a Parade of Homes on the mostly empty grassy lot. The site plan calls for a showcase development on half of the lot, including single-family homes and condominiums in mansion-style buildings.

Instead of accepting the proposal, the city opened up the deal to other developers in a request-for-proposal process which began in mid-December and ended Jan. 5. The city received proposals from Thompson, Allen and two former NFL players who are Norfolk natives, Bruce Smith of Bruce Smith Enterprises and William Fuller of Fulco Group.

Each developer will have an opportunity to give a 15-minute presentation during a City Council afternoon work session on Wednesday. If the council decides to sell or transfer the land, it will require a supermajority: six votes from the seven-member council.

Allen said she has worked with the Buckroe Civic Association and the Buckroe Improvement League — two citizen groups — to get input on her plans for the lot, known as the former Todd's Cottages site.

She wants to build 40 residential units on the site: duplexes, condos in mansion-style buildings, town houses and single-family homes on small lots. All will have rear-loaded parking, as per the city's master plan. The price range will be $300,000 to $475,000, Allen said.

During the presentation to council, she'll also reveal some environmentally savvy technological features, she said. But if she builds anything, it will be with materials able to withstand a hurricane stronger than Isabel, which tore through the area in 2003.

When asked why the council should pick her plan over the other two, Allen said because she already has a vested financial interest in the land south of Buckroe Beach Park.

"I've got real money involved, cash money, out-of-pocket, no lending involved," Allen said.

    Who is B.K. Allen?
    Betty Kay Allen is a Northern Virginia developer and commercial Realtor who owns a town home in the Salt Ponds area of Hampton. She has a contract to buy, and plans to develop, an area of Buckroe south of Buckroe Beach Park. She is also one of three developers interested in buying and developing a city block at the southeastern corner of Pembroke Avenue and Mallory Street.

    • April 2006 to present: Managing member of BA Realty Advisors LLC in Potomac Falls, a real estate development and asset management business.

    • 1985 to present: Managing partner, BK Allen Real Estate LLC, a Northern Virginia commercial real estate brokerage and advisory firm working with corporate and investment clients.

    • April 1984 to December 1996: Vice president and chief financial officer, Falcon Enterprises Inc., a real estate development company specializing in warehouse, office and retail space.

    • April 1982 to June 1984: Vice president, Wills Investments, a commercial development and leasing group.

    • President and chief executive officer, Allen/Fredlock Properties, a commercial real estate brokerage firm.
From the Newport News, Va., Daily Press
Developer's plans for Hampton
Buckroe Boom Downtown Bust?

By Matthew Sturdevant | 247-7874
    February 24, 2009

HAMPTON - — Local developer Tommy Thompson's Kicotan Co. entered an agreement with the city last year to build a four-story brick building called the Francis Ballard I at the northwest corner of Kings Way and Queens Way in downtown Hampton. It was to feature a clock tower, a restaurant, two floors of office space and condominiums on the fourth floor.

Thompson spent about $150,000 on plans and specifications. Construction was scheduled to start in September.

Then the credit market tanked.

Whispering began around the city about Thompson's downtown property and cast doubt on his ability to develop high-end housing in Buckroe.

Thompson says these are two completely different projects.

His bank changed the terms of his loan for which he had a verbal agreement on the downtown project, he said. The new terms required Thompson to have the building 75 percent leased before construction started. His bank and other lenders were only willing to commit only 50 percent to 75 percent of financing for the $5.2million project, and at a higher interest rate than Thompson originally planned.

The terms were "suicidal," he said.

Ownership of the downtown lot was going to transfer from the Hampton Redevelopment and Housing Authority to Thompson's company, at a cost, once Thompson started development. He asked for an extension. The city agreed in November to a six-month delay and an option to extend it by another six months, to Nov. 12. The land still belongs to the housing authority.

Meanwhile, Thompson's other company, Harrison & Lear Inc., along with the Peninsula Housing & Builders Association, made a pitch last fall to develop a different piece of public land.

Thompson gave the city an unsolicited proposal on a near-empty city block with views of the Chesapeake Bay across the recently renovated Buckroe Beach Park. The plan is to build half of the block into a Parade of Homes — a grouping of high-end single-family houses and condos in mansion-style buildings.

"Now, first of all, I've got builders who have agreed to take all the lots," Thompson said of Buckroe. "What's different about this is I'm developing the lots and selling them to the builders."

Instead of accepting Thompson's plans for Buckroe, the city asked other developers to submit proposals. Three replied.

None of the responses have been released by the city, but two made their intentions known — Thompson and a team of former NFL football stars: Bruce Smith of Bruce Smith Enterprises and William Fuller of Fulco Group.

The third interested developer, Potomac Falls Realtor B.K. Allen, won't comment other than to say via e-mail she has "purposely avoided the media and worked with the citizens."

The City Council will hear presentations from the three developers during a public meeting March 11 in the council chambers at City Hall. The Buckroe land is a public space and can only be sold or transferred if a "super majority" — six of the seven council members — gives approval to do so, said City Attorney Cynthia Hudson. That means two dissenting votes could kill any proposal.

If the council agrees to work with Thompson and the builders' association, Thompson would put in the driveways, parking and other infrastructure. Then 13 to 15 different home builders will individually get loans and each work on constructing a home. If one of the home builders can't get a loan to build a house, Thompson said he will pick another home builder of about 100 who are in the 400-member builders' association. The other members are construction-materials suppliers and subcontractors.

Thompson said in his 55 years as a developer, he has been involved in 20 different Parade of Homes.

"I have more experience in doing this and the bank has more experience in supporting me doing this," he said of the Parade of Homes compared to the mixed-use building downtown.

Thompson is quick to point out that this Parade of Homes would feature a different type of house than in previous events. The key features are intended to be environmentally friendly "green" buildings. Homes would be on smaller lots, priced at about $400,000. As far as the downtown property, Thompson said if November comes and he is not allowed another extension by the city, he'll be out $150,000, which is better than having lost $1million of his investment.

"Let somebody else come in and get rich if they think that it's an easy deal," he said.

"But I wanna do it because I grew up in downtown Hampton, and as a boy I walked by that drugstore, which is what it was, and when I went to church I went there and got a soda.

"I skipped Sunday school and went there and got a soda with friends of mine and then came back by the time Sunday school was over and they took roll and I got credit for having attended Sunday school. So mother never knew the difference."

From the Newport News, Va., Daily Press
Council weighs Buckroe proposals
The City Council may choose one of the plans presented in a closed meeting on Wednesday.

    February 10, 2009

HAMPTON - — Three competing proposals to develop a city block in Buckroe will be presented to the City Council during a closed-door meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Hampton's Economic Development leaders will tell the council about the city's options for property adjacent to Buckroe Beach Park, and they will give the council a recommendation for which proposal is best. The recommendation has not been disclosed.

At issue is potential development of condominiums in "mansion-style buildings" and single-family homes on a near-empty city block between Pembroke and Point Comfort avenues from North Mallory Street to Second Street. The city received an unsolicited proposal last year from Tommy Thompson, the committee chair appointed by the Peninsula Housing and Builders Association, and president of local development company Harrison & Lear.

Instead of accepting Thompson's offer for the land, the city opened the process to other developers.

The deadline to submit proposals was Jan. 5. None of the offers have been disclosed by the city. However, two developers publicly expressed interest in the land: Thompson and Fulco Development Inc.

The council could do one of three things on Wednesday: Pick a winning proposal, decide not to pick any proposal or ask for more information about each, which would postpone a decision.

Proposals are evaluated on the following criteria, according to city documents:

• Quality of the development and anticipated pricing of the residential units.

• Conformance to the Buckroe Master Plan and Pattern Book, which has specific architectural and design requirements.

• Price offered for the land and payment terms.

• Development schedule and completion date.

• Use of "green design" principles.

The actual value of the land is still not clear. City assessment records show that the land made available for development consists of four parcels. The combined value of the three smallest is $253,300. The largest parcel — valued at $1.5 million — includes the beach between Pilot and Buckroe avenues. The beach is not for sale, but the city doesn't have a separate assessment of the land up for sale.

The beach and lot were both part of a land sale in 1986 when Hampton bought the property from the Stieffen family for $1.65 million. The Stieffen family owned and operated the Buckroe Beach Hotel and Amusement Park until it closed in 1985.

From the Newport News, Va., Daily Press
NFL stars see bright light in Buckroe

By Matthew Sturdevant | Daily Press
    January 28, 2009

Two former NFL players have teamed up and are "very interested" in developing vacant property next to Buckroe Beach Park in Hampton.

Bruce Smith, who was an All-American at Virginia Tech and holds the NFL's career sacks record, joined former Pro-Bowl defensive end William Fuller, on a proposal to develop a near-empty city block between Pembroke and Point Comfort avenues from North Mallory Street to 2nd Street.

Fuller's company, Fulco Development Inc., and Bruce Smith Enterprise LLC envision the area becoming a mix of high-end, all-brick, single-family homes and condominiums. All of this will be in accordance with Hampton's master plan for the area, Fuller said.

But they're not the only ones interested developing the area.

In the fall, Hampton developer Tommy Thompson, president of Harrison & Lear, offered the city an unsolicited proposal to build a Parade of Homes that would be done by members of the Peninsula Housing & Builders Association.

The Parade of Homes concept is to have local builders demonstrate their top-of-the-line craftsmanship for a row of expensive houses that are then showcased to the public and later sold. Thompson's vision for Buckroe features condominiums in "mansion-style buildings" along with 13 single-family homes.

Instead of accepting Thompson's offer, the city opened the process to other developers in a request-for-proposal, RFP, process which ended Jan. 5.

The city received three offers - none of which have been disclosed to the public. However, Fulco and Thompson have made their intentions public.

Smith said if the proposal he and Fuller submitted is accepted by Hampton officials, they are ready to go to work.

When asked about the Buckroe property, Hampton Mayor Molly Joseph Ward said, "I can't say anything until I see the proposals, and I haven't seen them."

City staff will decide either to pick one of the proposals which will then be brought before the City Council, or could decide to pick none of them, said City Manager Jesse Wallace. He hopes that decision will be made next week. If a winning proposal is chosen, Wallace said he would like to see it come before the council in February.

"I want to move as rapidly as makes sense," Wallace said.

Fuller and Smith, both Norfolk natives, see a lot of potential in the Buckroe Beach area and have personal memories of it.

"I used to go there as a kid," Smith said, adding that Buckroe was among one of few beaches open to blacks during segregation.

In turn, this is a unique opportunity for Hampton to engage black developers, Smith said.

This comes at a time when Hampton is trying to figure out a way to remedy disparity in the amount of business the city does with minority-owned companies.

Minority-owned businesses took in 1.63 percent of city purchases and procurements in 2008, down from 2.37 percent the previous year, according to city documents.

City staff is expected to present information to the council in the next few months with recommendations on how to change that percentage.

In Hampton, 45.4 percent of the population is white and not of Hispanic origin, while blacks make up 47.4 percent, according to the most recent estimates in 2006 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Smith is a lead partner in Smith's Landing, a $50 million development in Blacksburg that includes 284 luxury apartments, a 140-room hotel and 5,000 square feet of commercial retail space. He has partnered with Armada Hoffler on the Boynton Commons Shopping Center in Boynton, Fla.; the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington; blocks seven and 10 in The Town Center of Virginia Beach; and The Swedish Embassy and Harbourside office building, both in Washington.

Fulco has 31 lots in Hampton, ranging from waterfront property to high-end brick homes under construction on Butler Farm Road.

From the Newport News, Va., Daily Press
Deal for land at Buckroe won't include beach

By Matthew Sturdevant | Daily Press
    January 2, 2009

If the city sells an empty lot near Buckroe Beach for development of a Parade of Homes, the sale won't include a stretch of public beach from Pilot Avenue to Buckroe Avenue.

The city's request for a proposal offers developers a city block between North Mallory Street and Second Street and from East Pembroke to Point Comfort avenues - but not the beach.

However, the assessed value of one parcel includes the value of a public beach between Pilot and Buckroe avenues. The city received an unsolicited bid in early 2008 from Harrison & Lear to build mansion-style buildings that would have a single front door, but open up to condominiums inside, as well as some single-family homes.

Harrison & Lear offered the city a price for the land that hasn't been disclosed.

Instead of accepting the offer, the city is asking other developers for proposals, which are due at 4 p.m. Monday.

The question remains: How much is the land worth?

Hampton doesn't have an assessed value for the lot itself.

City records show the available land as four parcels, not including a house at the corner of Point Comfort and Mallory.

The combined assessed value of the three smallest parcels is $253,300.

However, city documents show the largest parcel - valued at $1.5 million - as including the beach between Pilot and Buckroe avenues.

The beach and the empty lot were both part of a land sale in 1986.

That's when the city bought property from the Stieffen family for $1.65 million, according to city documents.

The Stieffen family owned and operated the Buckroe Beach Hotel and Amusement Park until it closed in 1985.

The block for sale used to have a gas station, which was destroyed by fire in the 1960s and never rebuilt, Councilman Ross A. Kearney II said.

The city also demolished some buildings that were on the lot.

Councilwoman Angela Leary said she would like to know the true value of the land before she was comfortable voting to sell it.

She said the true value would be the amount that the city paid for the lot, the cost of cutting grass and other maintenance for 22 years, and the cost to demolish buildings that used to be on the lot.

"Would the citizens approve of me selling the land without knowing what they paid for it?" Leary asked.

"I don't think they would."

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Buckroe Improvement League, Inc.

​  1968 E. Pembroke Avenue
  Hampton, VA 23663

The BIL won first place in the Blissful Lights Contest among Registered Neighborhood Organizations.  This beachy snowman display coincided with the First Annual Buckroe Lighthouse Holiday Illumination on December 3, 2016.  Photography by Sandra Deans Snyder. 
The BIL won TWO awards at the 2017 Hampton Clean City Commission's volunteer recognition dinner. Accepting the award Donald Blake and his granddaughter Davalyn; both are essential to our monthly cleanups in Buckroe. Many thanks to all of our volunteers!

Buckroe Historical Marker Dedication
Saturday June 23rd 9:00 a.m.
At the former site of the Bay Shore Hotel, an African American resort in the time of segregation. The marker is near James T. Wilson fishing pier (formerly Buckroe Beach pier) parking will be on South First Street. Learn more at: