USAA Plans Social Security Office Building in Norfolk, Va.

Dec. 14--NORFOLK -- The City Council on Tuesday voted 5-2 to rezone and sell a piece of land by Lake Taylor that will eventually house a regional Social Security Administration building.

The vote followed opposition by the planning commission and residents, both concerned about increased traffic in the area, and by a nearby hospital interested in the land for expansion.

The site is being developed by USAA Real Estate Company, which will pay about $1.2 million for the 6.6-acre site.

However, the company will eventually get about $500,000 back from the city for building an access road from Military Highway and installing traffic signals.

USAA plans to build a 65,000-square-foot office building by late next summer and lease it to the Social Security Administration, which is consolidating three offices in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

The lease arrangement means the property will stay on the city's tax rolls.

Eleanor Bradshaw of Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital, which abuts the site, told council members Tuesday that hospital officials expressed interest in the property as early as 2001 to build assisted-living housing.

In August, the hospital sent the city a letter saying it wanted to buy the property but received no reply, she said.

The next word was notice of the potential sale in the newspaper. The move will prevent the hospital from expanding, she said.

Richard Rutyna, of the Lake Taylor Civic League, said his group was opposed to the sale because of the "tremendous traffic increase" it would cause.

The city's planning commission had voted to deny the rezoning based on similar concerns. Rutyna said the area's infrastructure would not be able to support such a large project, and that the access road into the building would ultimately serve as a corridor for future development. "This is just the beginning of the stress," he said.

(Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA) (KRT) -- 12/15/05)