Portsmouth marketing focuses on potential residents


For the past three years, the city's economic development department has targeted a surprising industry - people.

The department has put most of its $115,000 marketing budget into an effort to attract new residents to the city.

City Council members had directed the focus in 2010 because the city's population was shrinking.

And fewer people means dwindling tax dollars and fewer shoppers for the retailers that city leaders hope to lure into town, according to Patrick J. Small, the city's economic development director.

The department has paid for TV commercials, radio spots, billboards and a MoveToPortsmouthVa.com website.

Viewers see sweeping waterfront scenes. They watch the paddle-wheel ferry sail into a downtown landing. And they see steeples rise above Olde Towne.

"Built by patriots and filled with families," the voice in the commercial says of the city's first neighborhood.

The ads also feature new neighborhoods such as New Port and old favorites including Glensheallah, where stately 1940s homes face the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River.

"Tell your Realtor," each intones at the end.

The city's head count had dropped from almost 104,000 in 1990 to 95,535 in 2010.

The numbers are edging upward now - to about 96,500 in 2012 - and Portsmouth officials want to keep the moving vans coming.

"Any way you shake it, having more people living within your boundaries floats a lot of boats," said Councilman Bill Moody.

City leaders said Portsmouth's real estate setting offers a competitive edge. Small said there is a national and regional trend of people moving back to urban centers.

And Portsmouth has a reputation for being affordable.

Home sale prices are lower in the old seaport, according to the Real Estate Information Network and Old Dominion University Economic Forecasting Project.

In 2012, the median sale price for an existing home was $78,000 less than the Hampton Roads median. For new construction, it was about $65,000 less.

The same statistics showed that sales of homes in Portsmouth are climbing. The number of existing homes sold went from 936 in 2010 to 1,022 in 2012. And new-home sales rose from 38 in 2010 to 66 in 2012.

At a recent council work session, members were updated on the campaign and a survey, which will try to measure the impact of the effort.

Both Mayor Kenny Wright and Moody say that, at this point, the survey establishes a benchmark.

So far, there have been 6,845 visitors to the MoveToPortsmouthVa.com website - about 54 percent from Virginia and almost 1,700 from neighboring South Hampton Roads cities. Others hail from 50 states and several countries.

And, not surprisingly, the initial results indicate that more than half of the city's newest homebuyers made their decisions based on lower prices.

Wright believes that the city's timing in trying to woo homebuyers and residents is perfect. Lessons were learned from the recession and the bursting of the housing bubble, he said - many people lost homes or found themselves underwater.

Janie Bryant, 757-446-2453,janie.bryant@pilotonline.com

Posted to: Local Government News Portsmouth Realty News

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Up until the moment the TROLL introduced the TOLL idea

Portsmouth was drawing quite a few young professionals. which explains the growth of he Night scene downtown. The prospect of TOLLS put a damper on the spark, now as the jobs grow in he area - the same professionals will see the value in living downtown Portsmouth, and ride the Ferry to and fro from downtown Norfolk, but the Ferry needs to start it's route earlier in the Morning. By at least an Hour. Dave Cartier (coffee Kiosk Ferry Stop), always suggested that, earlier transport, car free, to the jobs and back. More Home for the Buck in Portsmouth. also lower the property tax rate so more can buy downtown and stop renting.

actually tolls will help P-town

Norfolk will become TOLL ISLAND. Businesses will leave Norfolk and move to either P-Town or Suffolk. We have already seen huge growth over the past decade in Northern Suffolk and with the tolls P-Town will grow. Most of the container distribution warehouses are located in Suffolk. The additional cost of the tolls may be enough to attract ships away from NIT to the terminals in Portsmouth. If you haven't noticed, P-Town is razing a lot of old vacant buildings and now has many vacant lots for new business. Two large areas for residential is the old Woodrow Wilson site and Fairfield Homes site. I agree about starting the ferries running earlier. It's all a win for Portsmouth.

More buildings need to come down...

Keep that up, Portsmouth....you need to get rid of old, abandoned properties. Cradock Highschool looks absolutely awful for example. The area on High between Effingham and Constitution is also bad. And please consider removing and replacing that old London Blvd shopping center. It is not conducive to a cleaned up London there. And, let's face it, it is sitting sideways with a booze store as anchor.

If you are going to build more high end apt complexes downtown, you have got to fix that spot.

And, what about a new Community Center...with a nice pool...at the new park? The old DT armory one which does not have a pool on Elm is too unappealing to take a family too...for many reasons including sagging pants....

Norfolk hired a retired Navy captain to attract military


Haven't heard a thing about how he's doing in his $100,000/year job.

Last we heard, he was moving his family from Virginia Beach.

How about an update, V-P?

Keep Portsmouth moving

Keep Portsmouth moving forward! Keep up the good work Economic Development group!

Comparing real estate values

Best to use price per square foot when comparing to other cities. Portsmouth has smaller homes.

I disagree. Your experience

I disagree. Your experience with Portsmouth real estate must be the older cracker box homes built around 1945. Homes in Churchland like I owned were a good size for the money.

Free rent for artists!

Portsmouth would be hipper than Brooklyn because the next thing you know all the affluent urban sophisticates would want a piece of that.
The chic shall inherit the worth.

First Impressions make a difference and there are areas of need

I encourage the city fathers to drive into Portsmouth in route to the biggest employers...the shipyard and the naval hospital. Also, come over the new Jordan and into Portsmouth. What do you see? You do not see nice landscaped streets or flowers...(except the trash plant's grounds which are neat). You see a very unkept Elm Avenue on your way to George Washington which is not much better.

Coming to the naval hospital near its entrance you see unkept grassy areas, no trimmed trees or flowers on the public roadway. Along London...you see a very yucky looking pseudo shopping center with a ligour store (now you can see the back of the complex which is really nasty.

A few bucks on landscaping and code enforcement is very important!!

Portsmouth marketing

It looks like Portsmouth is heading in the right direction with this marketing concept. But the one thing they do not need to do, is let the PRDHA put section 8 tentants in some of the better neighborhoods of Portsmouth. Letting families that live off of less than 15,000.$ per year live in a neighborhood of people earning 100,000.$ and up is not a good mix. These people moved in after a military man shipped overseas and leased his home to PRDHA. Now all of a sudden we've got 9 to 15 year old kids running the streets at night and going through our cars and stealing or either leaving items they don't want out on the front lawn. And cookouts in the front yard? Jeez! And the block duplexes in Cavalier Manor on Greenwood Dr. need to go!

You have to have attractive

You have to have attractive looking roads when you drive on the main roads in Portsmouth. Driving down London Blvd. you will see curbings which are edged, then you'll see a section with grass hanging over the curb and growing in the street. Drive by Mt. Herman School on London and you see trees and bushes growing on the fence line and hanging on the sidewalk.
The city leaders see this and nothing is done. It makes an eyesore.
I have lived in Portsmouth for nearly twenty years and my neighborhood has developed more rentals on my block. You see trash in the street gutters in front of houses and the people that live there are too lazy to pick it up. If I knew what I know now, I would have not moved here.

All the landscaping and code

All the landscaping and code enforcement is not going to change the fact that the one drawback moving to Portsmouth is the school system. Portsmouth is fine for someone with no children but otherwise,I would advise anyone with school age children to choose Western Branch over Portsmouth when it comes to purchasing a home. I speak from experience having a child that I had to take out of the public school system after she was attacked in the school bathroom.

Portsmouth marketing

To get to PORTSMOUTH you must come through one of several corridors and lets face facts they all are not appealing. There is trash along the roads unkept grass in several yards and vacant properties. What is the deal city council do you really go out and look at what surrounds Old Town. Sure the back of the shipyard is unsightly but it doesn't have to be unkept bring out the inmates that our taxes are supporting and clean up the areas that are in need. As far as the commercials go in my opinion it is false advertising at best. You want to attract new families to this region lower the taxes on the residents and raise the taxes on the slumlords, raise taxes on the vacant buildings owners. Clean up first before you try to sale the City


Why would anyone want to move to Portsmouth? Just look at the bad press that our city council has caused. I hate to say it but Portsmouth is the joke of Hampton Roads and not to mention a hot bed of racial tension. That's all our mayor cares about,it's all he ever talks about. Mr Mayor ,do you realize other races live in portsmouth? It's not just a black city! Until our city leaders realize it, you will NEVER get people to move to Portsmouth.

7 years ago

When we received orders here 7 years ago, and knew we would be retiring here, we were very interested in several beautiful Portsmouth properties on deep water. Although the porperties were within our price range, an examination of the district's high school's SOLs moved us over to Chesapeake. While we preferred to buy in Portsmouth, we could not also afford the private education we thought would be necessary for our children.
Our children have since gratudated and gone on to college, however, and if we could sell our current home without taking a loss, and wanted to stay in the area, we would probably start the search for our dream deep-water home in Portsmouth.


The City of Portsmouth has turned out to be a little more expensive than I figured, at least so far. We're not talking a lot of money here, but it all adds up. I moved to Portsmouth a little over 90 days ago, and have discovered that the city vehicle license fee is DOUBLE the fee I was charged in Chesapeake. I was floored when I got my first water bill, only $17 for 2 months water was great, but $66 for trash collection? That and the associated fee's & taxes made my $17 water bill total $93. I've already begun to dread my move to Portsmouth, should have stayed in Chesapeake. I own my house so I'm stuck for the time being, but as soon as it becomes reasonable to do so, I'm selling and moving back out of here. Just saying...

I moved from Chesapeake to

I moved from Chesapeake to Portsmouth in 2005, from/to equal values of housing. I was surprised how much more everything cost in Portsmouth: water-sewer, trash, property taxes highest in Tidewater. It was a huge increase in cost of living. And the infrastructure is ancient and failing. Took a huge loss when I moved away, but had to get away from the cost of living there.


I just moved to Olde Towne & I love it. Sorry I did not do it sooner. City life is not for everyone, the "burbs" are there for those who don't mind being bored to death. There is life here. Chesp is the most boring place I have ever lived, nothing but shopping, going to church, cutting the grass and washing your car on the weekends and getting ready for work again on Monday and on and on. Of course it is old, it is historic therefore by definition "old". Sure you can join the YMCA at $85.00 bucks a month in the burbs for something to do, I suppose. There are many free quality activities here. You ain't getting free in Chesp. that's for sure. I will take Ptown any day, but again it is not for everyone. Enjoy the burbs! Yawn!

Portsmouth always seems to

Portsmouth always seems to operate on hindsight. They always seem to do something to improve the city and then after the fact say "shucks" we should have done this or that. Why in the world would you spend all that money for the Paradise Creek project and not put a boat ramp, parking lot and a pick-nic area on the water, for the city residents to use. Chesapeake has this type of recreation area right across the river next to the old Jordan bridge. They even have a fishing pier where you can fish and crab for free. We have all this waterfront property and only one public boat ramp. And half the people using it on the weekend are from Chesapeake. I pay my city taxes so they can use the ramp for free. What's up with that?

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