Norfolk: A city that's definitely growing again!

37 photographs and captions illustrating the 21st century renaissance of Norfolk, Virginia.

13. Now a floating museum, USS Wisconsin was the last battleship built in the United States and has served in World War II, the Korean and Gulf Wars.

14. From 1970 to 1976, the Virginia Squires of the defunct American Basketball Association (ABA) played in downtown Norfolk’s Norfolk Scope Arena. Today, the Hampton Roads metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area in the United States without at least one sports franchise in the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB. When completed in 1971, the 13,800-seat Norfolk Scope Arena was the world’s largest reinforced thinshell concrete dome.

15. Norfolk is an independent city with services that both counties and cities in Virginia provide, such as a sheriff, social services, and a court system. Norfolk operates under a council-manager form of government. Other major independent cities in the region include Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth and Suffolk. Overall, the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (Hampton Roads) MSA is the 37th largest in the United States with a total 2016 estimated population of 1,724,876 residents.

16. Hilton Norfolk at The Main is a 294 room, 23-story luxury hotel and conference center that celebrated its grand opening in March 2017. The vision behind the $126 million public/private project was to create a place-maker for Norfolk’s downtown. In addition, it’s 50,000-square-feet, the conference center is the largest meeting space in the city.

The project will sit on the corner of Granby and Main streets. It will use about $89 million in public funds, including $16 million that already has been spent. The deal is similar to earlier versions of the project that failed to materialize. Virginia Beach-based Gold Key would pay the majority of the construction expenses for a 23-story, 300-room hotel, which will cost $64 million to build. The project could be finished by spring 2017. The project is expected to create 500 construction jobs and 250 full-time jobs. The city will chip in an extra $2.5 million so the developer can build a grander hotel. That's on top of the original $7.5 million that will offset the developer's construction costs. The city's share also includes $42.5 million for the conference center and a $750,000 performance grant to recruit a high-end restaurant. The money would come from the city's public amenities fund. As part of the deal, the city also would construct a $19.5 million parking garage, which would be paid for with user fees.

17. Prior to the opening of the Hilton Norfolk at The Main, downtown’s largest meeting space was the Norfolk Waterside Marriott’s Waterside Convention Center. Located across the street, it offers 68,879 square feet of total event space.

18. The NEON District is Norfolk’s first official arts district. NEON, or New Energy Of Norfolk, draws from the neighborhood’s history with the automobile industry as it moves into a new and vibrant future. Long time cultural institutions like the Chrysler Museum of Art and Harrison Opera House anchor the District while new art venues like Glass Wheel Studio and Work|Release provide artists a place to make, create and show.

19. Granby Street is Downtown Norfolk’s traditional “shopping street” and the surrounding district has become home to many residents. Considered a ghost town 20 years ago, most of the early 20th century buildings that line Granby Street are now occupied with restaurants, bars and other entertainment oriented venues at street level.

20. Located just west of the Central Business District, the Freemason Historic District is the city’s oldest standing neighborhood, presenting a visible chronology of three centuries of development. In 2013, known for its cobblestone streets and mature landscape, it was recognized by the American Planning Association as a Top 10 Great Neighborhood.

21. Norfolk is one of a few cities of its size in the country with a successful enclosed regional shopping mall in the center of its downtown. Opening on March 12, 1999, the 140 store, 900,000-square-foot MacArthur Center covers three levels and is anchored by Dillard’s, Nordstrom and a Regal MacArthur 18 movie theater.

22. Waterside is a festival marketplace dating back to 1983 that was intended to revitalize the downtown waterfront. Waterside declined during the 1990s and was acquired by the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority in 1999. In 2015, the City of Norfolk and The Cordish Companies announced a deal to retrofit Waterside into a food hall. The revitalized center is anticipated to open in spring 2017.

The Cordish Cos.’ plans for the main building involve changes that will open views to the water and anchor the project with an open “market,” or hall of local and national restaurant vendors, including Starr Hill Brewery. The developer plans to announce the rest of the tenant lineup over time. Within the market, the developer will also install a stage. The performance area is intended to hold up to a three-piece band, Cordish said. Norfolk has an agreement with The Cordish Cos. to give back 70 percent of the tax the city collects from food, drinks and admissions until the company has received $32 million, or 80 percent of its renovation costs. In a 6-1 vote in April, the City Council also agreed to pay nearly 1 percent of the assessed value of the property each year to Cordish, though the total payments to the developer are still capped at $32 million.

23. USA Today called Norfolk one of the Top 10 booming downtowns, recognizing a decades-long housing, retail and financial boom in Norfolk.

24. As a result of coordination between the City of Norfolk and the Virginia Community College System, Tidewater Community College (TCC) opened its downtown Norfolk campus in 1997. Additional campus expansions, such as the Norfolk Campus Student Center in 2011, had led to a student headcount of 12,740 by 2014-15.