Monday, June 17, 2024

Newport News to build new $40 million state-of-the-art Grissom Library

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Newport News residents could have a new state-of-the-art Grissom Library within the next three years.

The city council on Tuesday voted to appropriate $33.18 million in bond money for the design and construction of a new Virgil I. Grissom Library, to be built at the Sherwood Shopping Center on Warwick Boulevard. The cost of the project is estimated at $40 million.

The move would accommodate Newport News residents in the northern portions of the city, who have for years expressed a need for a larger library with modern amenities.

The current 16,635-square-foot library on Deshazor Drive, built in 1976, has outgrown its space. The facility supports the area from northern Lee Hall to City Center and serves a population of over 88,000 people. According to city documents, it has never undergone a major renovation and is at the end of its service life.

In 2021, the city hired the architectural firm Quinn Evans to develop a master plan study for the Sherwood Shopping Center, where the new library would anchor the development. The city’s economic development authority owns the site.

City Manager Alan Archer said the new library will be two stories and 51,450-square-feet. It will house meeting spaces, office space for library personnel and feature more modern technology. Other ideas under consideration include a drive-up window, auditorium/performance space, expanded children’s area, study rooms, additional community meeting spaces and an art gallery.

“Speaking to Grissom Library, I truly believe that this is going to be a catalyst for development uptown,” said Vice Mayor Curtis Bethany. “And I’m looking forward to this coming to fruition.”

Craig M. Galant, the city’s director of engineering, said design work will take about 12 months, with Quinn Evans doing the designs. Construction likely will start next spring or summer and last 14-16 months, meaning the library would be ready to open at the end of 2026 or early 2027.

Galant said the total project cost will be roughly $40 million, and the city plans to spend $5.8 million in the upcoming fiscal year for the library replacement. The city’s capital improvement plan states the $5.8 million would come from a general obligation bond.

The new library is just one component of the city’s broader effort to gradually transform the Sherwood site into an inviting community hub. Part of that transformation began this fall when the Newport News police department relocated its North Precinct to the site because the previous location had insufficient space.

The North Precinct is now in a nearly 76,000-square-foot building that previously housed a Lowe’s store. Police are also using the former Lowe’s building as a new location for the Newport News Police Training Academy.

Josh Janney, joshua.janney@virginiamedia.com

A correction was made on April 29, 2024: Due to incorrect information provided to The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press, an earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the library as the Virgil L Grissom Library. It is Virgil I. Grissom Library.

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