Skip to content
NFL stars see bright light in Buckroe
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.