VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Virginia Beach residents remember the former Dome, located between 18th Street and 20th Street, and say a new Oceanfront entertainment facility is long overdue.
Drawings of the proposed facility have not been released. Beach Councilman John Uhrin promised the building will be both iconic and modern. He calls the Dome site deal, "the best thing to happen to Virginia Beach tourism since the Atlantic Ocean."
The Dome was the place to be back in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the biggest names in music played on its stage.
"I saw the Monkees, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones," Virginia Beach resident Bonnie Faircloth said. "It was just awesome."
"A lot of the old groups were over there back in the doo-wop days," said Doug Bray, who also attended shows at the Dome.
Both remember the sad day in 1994, when the Dome was demolished.
"When that happened, I was very sad," Bray said. "And then you start thinking, 'What are they going to put there?'"
"When I heard it was going to be a parking lot, I just cried," Faircloth said.
In 2008, Texas developer Michael Jenkins came to the city with a plan to transform the public parking lot into an indoor amusement park, with one of the tallest Ferris wheels on the East Coast, a Broadway-style theater, an ice rink and a price tag that was hard to pay when the economy bottomed out.
Seven deadline extensions later, another project helped investors see the potential in the Dome site plan. The failed arena proposal renewed investors' interest in Virginia Beach.
"It really validated the fact that Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads is not just a legitimate entertainment market, but legitimate for doing business, as a whole," Uhrin said.
Uhrin said taxpayers will pay approximately $40 million for parking garages, which will pay for themselves in the long run. As a hotel operator, Uhrin said the benefits far outweigh the costs.
"For the resort community, it's a game-changer," said Uhrin.
In the next couple of months, Jenkins will be in Virginia Beach to present renderings of the project. Councilman Uhrin says the design will incorporate glass with a sleek modern look, similar to that of the Convention Center.
The project is scheduled to be formally presented to city council and the development authority on February 19.
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