Exceeding Expectations: The Riverfront Puts Harbour View on the Map

TRF aerial1The Riverfront at Harbour View, a waterfront development in Hampton Roads, VA, developed by East West Communities, helped put Harbour View on the map back in 2000. The following article is an article that appeared in SUFFOLK LIVING, a magazine produced by The Suffolk News Herald, (Res Spears, Editor). The Riverfront at Harbour View, which spreads across two miles in North Suffolk, seems as much resort as neighborhood. The community offers its residents a plethora of amenities, including two pools, an 18 hole golf course, a Residents’ Clubhouse, several waterfront parks, two tennis and volleyball courts, a lakefront amphitheater, and waterside walking paths. Branch Lawson, the President of East West Communities, Hampton Roads, the developer of The Riverfront, said the community has exceeded the expectations the group had when construction began in the year 2000. “I think we’ve exceeded our goals,†he said. “It’s been a very successful and fulfilling effort. It’s been just the type of community and lifestyle creation we could have only hoped for when we started.†When the group purchased the land in 1999, East West wanted to build a community with a variety of home types and services. “We first and foremost try to amenitize the community with as many good diverse amenities as we can that will be attractive to the buying public.†Lawson said. â€œBecause of the land’s prime location in Hampton Roads†he said, “East West wanted to ensure the development would exceed people’s expectations. We recognized it as a property that was truly in the heart of Hampton Roads, both geographically and from a transportation prospective,†Lawson said. “We went into it with big hopes and dreams.†Prior to developing The Riverfront, East West developed Gatling Pointe near Smithfield, but the company had been mostly Richmond-based up until that point. East West Senior Vice-President Mark Edwards said he thinks creating Gatling Pointe, which includes over 500 homes, gave the company extra confidence going into The Riverfront at Harbour View. â€œBecause of the quality of community we did at Gatling Pointe, it really helped us land The Riverfront property†he said. Although the group purchased the land for The Riverfront in 1999, East West had shown interest in North Suffolk even before that. Lawson said they wanted to develop the entire area that became Harbour View and had contacted the company selling land for development. Prior to the ‘80s, the property was mostly farmland, but Chicago Bridge and Iron purchased it in the mid-‘70s, hoping to develop an oil refinery during the oil embargo. But a slow permitting process, coupled with local opposition, stalled the process, and the oil crisis ended before the company could break ground. The land remained vacant for years, and in the ‘80s the company began shopping it for development. â€œWe had been in touch with them to buy the landâ€, Lawson said. “We loved the location and loved the water accessibilityâ€. But Goodman Segar Hogan finally bought the property and earned the right to develop it. More than 10 years later, though, East West got another shot at a portion of the property when it was asked to finish the golf course communities. Picture Construction started on The Riverfront in 2000, and although this was East West’s second Hampton Roads community, it was to be different than all the company’s other developments. â€œIt’s the only golf community we have developed (in Hampton Roads),†Edwards said. “The Golf course provides natural separation between the neighborhoods within the community and it offers scenic views.” The first homes were completed in April 2000. A year later, the new community welcomed more than 100,000 people to its first “Home-a-ramaâ€. “That helped tremendously with awareness and putting the community on the map†Edwards said. “Before that, people didn’t know what The Riverfront was about and thought Suffolk was too far. Homerama put it on the map, and a lot of people came there for the first time.†(Article update: Ten years later, The Riverfront once again hosted Homearama in 2011, which featured nine homes on Shelter Cove Court. Over 80,000 attended the Tidewater Builders Association event.)Picture Edwards said The Riverfront has room for approximately 1200 homes, and more than 1000 have been built since 2000. Homes in the community range in size from one-bedroom condos to sprawling mansions and are priced from the mid-$100,000s to in the millions. â€œI think it brings in a total cross section of the population and all different age groups.†Lawson said. “I think the diversity of age ranges and family mixes makes for a very exciting community, and I think it makes it a more desirable communityâ€. Lawson echoed Edwards’ accolades for both The Riverfront and for Harbour View. “I would give the entire Harbour View area an “A†for how it has developed,†he said. “We’ve been very proud to be associated with working in this community and we think the whole area has exceeded expectations.â€