Pleasure House Point Preserved

Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. announced today that The Trust for Public Land has completed the conservation of Pleasure House Point for the City of Virginia Beach. Under terms of a deal announced two years ago between Wells Fargo bank and The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation group, the majority of the 118-acre property is now a public natural area. The City of Virginia Beach partnered with the Trust for Public Land and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Wells Fargo & Co. to secure the acquisition of the property for the $13 million purchase price. The City acquired 107 acres, and TPL will convey the remainder of the land to the CBF next year for use as an environmental center.

Pleasure House Point, located just west of the Lesner Bridge and south of the Chesapeake Bay, is at the merging of Pleasure House Creek and Crab Creek, overlooking the Lynnhaven Bay. Before Wells Fargo took ownership of the property in 2010 during a foreclosure, developers had planned to build a large waterfront development known as Indigo Dunes. Instead, Wells Fargo worked with TPL to allow TPL to purchase the property and then sell most of the land to the City for open space preservation and public access to the Lynnhaven River.

“This is a legacy purchase,” said Virginia Beach Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. “By preserving this property, we are creating a brighter, more sustainable environment for future generations. I thank The Trust for Public Land and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for joining us in this partnership to save the largest piece of undeveloped waterfront property on the Lynnhaven River.”

“The Trust for Public Land is very pleased to have partnered with the City of Virginia Beach and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to conserve Pleasure House Point,” said Kent Whitehead, TPL’s Chesapeake Project Director. “We greatly appreciate Wells Fargo’s willingness to sell this land for open space. It is a spectacular addition to the Virginia Beach park and natural area system, a capstone to efforts that span decades, and it is central to The Trust for Public Land’s mission to support greater public access to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.”

“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is proud to be part of this special partnership with the City of Virginia Beach, The Trust for Public Land, and the other land acquisition contributors,” said CBF President William C. Baker. “This successful conservation effort will benefit the environment and the entire community for generations to come. CBF looks forward to offering diverse environmental education and stewardship opportunities at this amazing property in the coming months and years.”

“We are proud to play a role in the preservation of this landmark property,” said Bill Honaker, SVP in Wells Fargo’s Real Estate Owned group. “Wells Fargo worked hand-in-hand with TPL to structure the transaction in a way that meets both their funding and preservation goals. We’re pleased to make this investment in one of the many communities we serve.”

The city has been working with citizens and partner groups to develop a plan for use of the public open space, building on the city’s existing plans to improve water quality in the Lynnhaven watershed, including a return of the famous Lynnhaven Oyster fishery.

“Acquisition of the Pleasure House Point property was identified as a top priority in the Parks and Recreation’s 2000 Outdoors Plan,” said Michael Kalvort, Director of Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation. “This purchase preserves a unique opportunity for citizens and visitors to experience shoreline habitat, wetlands, and the maritime forest. It will be another fantastic place for our citizens to engage in environmental recreation and to enjoy the beauty of nature.”

Funding for the purchase included $4 million in City Open Space funds, leveraged by a $1 million from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant; $500,000 from the Dominion Foundation provided through The Trust for Public Land; and a $500,000 grant from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation. The City also has a low interest Clean Water Revolving loan in the amount of $6 million provided by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The CBF will provide the additional $1 million towards the purchase when TPL conveys approximately 10 acres to them.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Established in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 3 million acres across the nation. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission.

Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to saving a national treasure – the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. Its motto, Save the Bay, defines the organization’s mission and commitment. With headquarters in Annapolis, Md., offices in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and 17 field centers, CBF works throughout the Chesapeake’s 64,000-square-mile watershed to build an informed citizenry, advocate pollution reduction, and enforce the law. CBF is supported by more than 200,000 active members and has a staff of 180 full-time employees.