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  • Writer's pictureTWP

Open Norfolk initiative creates Neighborhood Spots to engage community, help small businesses

NORFOLK, Va. – From messages spray painted on the ground to stay six feet apart to a very Parisian-looking Granby Street full of outdoor seating, Open Norfolk’s mission is to keep business flowing.

“We knew we had to do something a little different, and it’s been successful… [it] really has,” said Councilwoman Mamie Johnson.

Helping create outdoor dining in the streets from previously shuttered businesses was part of Open Norfolk Phase 1. Now, neighborhood pop-up spots are the next vision that is coming to light.

“Open Norfolk Phase 2 gave us an opportunity to take blank open spaces that we could imagine what possibilities could be,” said Johnson.

There three spots in the city: Broad Creek, Five Points and St. Paul’s. They each fill the need for outdoor programming, a safe gathering space, community activation and more.

“It is sort of like a block party. We are safe in what we are doing, and now even local vendors like food trucks and small businesses can come out to use the space,” she said.

Johnson says anyone can come out and use the site – clubs, families, food trucks and more.

“It was a chance for the city to come inside of the communities and build on where they are from while at the same time providing great summer opportunity,” said Johnson.

Open Norfolk is a $225,000 effort funded by the city. The new Neighborhood Spots will also be manned daily by ambassadors to help facilitate and assist.

“It is about being bold; it’s about being innovative; it’s about doing things a little differently out of the norm because we are in the situation that is no longer in the normal,” said Johnson.

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