Safe streets, great schools, engaged neighborhoods and a thriving business community don’t just “happen.” They are the result of responsible leadership, long-term vision, cooperation, fiscal discipline and an engaged, educated community.
The Partnership’s mission of promoting economic growth, leadership, and education within the city of Portsmouth is a challenging one, embracing all of these elements as it works to produce an increasingly higher quality of life for Portsmouth’s citizens. Accordingly, a number of affiliates, working beneath the Partnership’s umbrella, have been created to address specific challenges.
About half of Portsmouth’s land area is exempt from city taxes, placing an unusually large burden on the city’s businesses and homeowners. To address this, the Portsmouth Partnership combined forces in 1997 with the City of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority to form the Greater Portsmouth Development Corporation (GPDC), a 501c3 organization with the talent, financial leverage, and tax advantages needed to acquire, control and market under-utilized but strategically located properties throughout the city.
While GPDC success stories such as Roger Brown’s Restaurant and Sports Bar and the Dinwiddie Hotel are located in Portsmouth’s historic Olde Towne district, other projects include the Victory Crossing retail development, located adjacent to the newly-relocated Tidewater Community College campus, and Chick Fil-A on Frederick Boulevard. Since its founding in 1997, the GPDC’s efforts have produced over 1,000 jobs and $25,000,000 in tax revenue for the City of Portsmouth.
Partnership Development Foundation
The Partnership Development Foundation was formed in the summer of 2005. While it shares the GDPC’s 501c3 status and its mission to revitalize under-performing properties, it differs from the GPDC in that the revenue produced by its activities directly supports the activities of the Portsmouth Partnership and its affiliates. The Foundation’s first purchase, in 2005, was the 60,000 square foot Oxford Building, adjacent to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. Having been offered for sale – and only partially occupied – for several years, the building was sold in November of 2005 to a developer who reconfigured the space to include 24 luxury apartments, ground-level indoor parking, and street-level retail space.
In June of 2006 a unique opportunity presented itself to the Partnership and to other civic-minded organizations and individuals as the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority assembled 10 adjacent land parcels for a 10-home Habitat for Humanity Blitz Build in the Brighton neighborhood. The Partnership took a portion of its Oxford Building sale proceeds to team with then-Partnership President Ken Jolley’s Associated Contracting Services to build one of the homes, while Partnership member John Wright’s Waverton Associates covered the entire cost of another home.
Partnership board member Jerrold Miller’s Earl Industries and John Hall’s John E. Hall Electric made significant contributions to the effort, while several individual Partnership board members pitched in, as well. It was fitting that the buyer for the Partnership-ACS home was a young mother who later enrolled in the Partnership’s Lefcoe Leadership class, determined to take her personal civic commitment to a higher level. The PDF’s next purchase was a 5-acre parcel in Churchland which straddled the Portsmouth-Chesapeake boundary line. While dual 20-foot set-back requirements rendered the property practically unusable, conversations with the two cities’ authorities resulted in a waiver of the set-backs, allowing the formation a visible, accessible parcel in a high-traffic corridor. A 2.5 acre portion was sold to Royal Farms, who opened its new location in the winter of 2011. The remaining 2.5 acres represents a further opportunity for the PDF.
Portsmouth Partnership Foundation
From the earliest efforts of the Portsmouth Industrial Foundation onward, the Portsmouth Partnership’s focus on economic development was evidenced by the kinds of community investments that it made. The following investments, made between 1993 – 2003, were in addition to the $2,500,000 in earlier business loans made by the Partnership, outlined in the History section of this site:
Greater Portsmouth Development Corporation
Lindab reloation incentive
Fresnel Lens acquisition
Olde Towne Business Association
Economic Development Business Appreciation
Lefcoe Leadership Fund
Portsmouth Historical Survey
In time, however, the Partnership’s board saw the need to reach out beyond support for general economic development, and to find the means to actively support the specific works of Portsmouth’s many non-profits. As a result, a new affiliate was formed. Founded in 2003 with $100,000 in seed money from the Portsmouth Partnership, the Portsmouth Partnership Foundation was created to support both worthwhile projects and non-profits within the city of Portsmouth. Today, an Advisory Committee of Lefcoe alumni reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Partnership’s Executive Committee for final approval. Since 2003, PPF grants have included the following:
Bon Secours Maryview Foundation (Heart Institute)
Portsmouth Museums Foundation (Children’s Museum expansion)
Elizabeth River Project
Friends of the Portsmouth Public Library (Churchland computers)
Hampton Roads Arts Trust feasibility study
Lefcoe Alumni Association SAIL Award
Mile Marker Zero Rendezvous
Portsmouth Community Foundation (Pokey Smokey II)
Portsmouth Economic Development Dept. – Business Appreciation
Portsmouth Economic Development Dept. – Job Fair
Portsmouth Public Schools – Porte Towne Magic
Portsmouth Schools Foundation
Seeds for a Healthy Watershed
Tidewater Community College – Portsmouth Public Schools scholarship
Todi Music Fest
Urban Arts Center
Portsmouth Museums Foundation (Winter Wonderland)
The Portsmouth Partnership board has been pleased and gratified by the PPF’s focus, its performance, & its ability to tap the expertise of Lefcoe Leadership Alumni in identifying & addressing the needs of Portsmouth’s non-profit organizations.
Every 4th, 5th and 6th grader in the Portsmouth Public School System attends Starbase, a week-long program focusing on the environment, geo-spatial concepts, and the principles of flight. Pictured above, 6th graders work toward the final day of class, when each will launch his or her very own rocket.
“Innovator grants” of $500 each, provided by the Portsmouth Schools Foundation, enable teachers to put new ideas and opportunities in front of their students. Here, students design and construct a scale model of a whale.
A grant to the Friends of the Portsmouth Public Library paid for the computers in the Technology Training Room of the new Churchland Branch Library.
Fund-raisers like those held at Mario’s Italian Restaurant fuel grants made to the Urban Arts Center and the Children’s Museum of Virginia.
working to improve the lives of Portsmouth’s citizens: