Meet Bart Frye Golden Paintbrush Sponsor, Frye Properties
(Norfolk, VA) Frye Properties and East Beach developer Bart Frye has generously supported Coastal VA Plein Air for several years. This year, Frye repeated his support of Ocean View and the arts at the highest possible level, a demonstration of the commitment and passion they have for creating a Simple Life on the Bay that will be enjoyed by thousands of people for generations to come. In this interview, we speak with East Beach Town Founder and Developer Bart Frye.
Interviewer: Bart, Frye Properties was instrumental in the revitalization of Ocean View. Can you tell us what Ocean View was like in the early 2000’s?
The City of Norfolk earmarked East Beach long before the turn of this century as its most blighted area that needed a total revitalization. Pizza delivery people did not want to venture in the neighborhood, taxi drivers didn’t want to take or pick up fares there and parents certainly weren’t letting their children play in that part of Ocean View. East Beach Company was selected to create a total renaissance of the area. This vision continues.
Interviewer: What was the vision for East Beach and why did you decide to get involved as a developer? Who else was involved?
Answer: Our vision was to create a traditionally designed, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood where people could walk, ride bikes or cruise in golf carts, could gather and enjoy music, fun, laughter, and where people would know their neighbors. We wanted to be a part of creating a truly special place in Norfolk that would be a lasting legacy for the city and our company. East Beach would not have happened without my
partners, Larry Goldrich and Al Abiouness, the Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority, former Norfolk Councilman Randy Wright and Barclay Winn, former Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, Shurl Montgomery and many others. I will always be honored to have worked alongside these dedicated people who believed in this project long before the first foundation was poured.
Interviewer: Share some of the challenges you encountered with this project.
Answer: Creating a high-end housing community in an area that had a significant past of crime and neglected housing was a massive financial risk. Fortunately, with the incredible support from the city, preemptory enforcement of safety from law enforcement officials, and careful and creative planning, our vision was able to become a reality. We were uncertain of what the public buy-in would be and how many people would be willing to purchase in this new community. Early successes such as hosting an unprecedented three Tidewater Builders Association’s Homearamas and having Coastal Living magazine choose us to feature its Idea House in 2005 were great opportunities to allow people to see what we were creating at East Beach and build a positive reputation for the neighborhood.
Interviewer: Now, nearly 20 years later, how has the development progressed in East Beach?
Answer: Our seventh and final phase of East Beach is well underway, and we are thrilled to see the final piece come together. Over the years, we have had to respond to many changes in the economy, such as the 2008 recession, decline of small retail, and most recently the pandemic. Creativity and determination resulted in our continued success throughout these changes and the resulting final master plan is something we are excited about and very proud of. You just have to look around the area to see how East Beach has impacted not only the Norfolk neighborhood but Hampton Roads. This development changed what was possible and raised the bar for future developments.
Interviewer: Has reality mirrored the original vision? What stands out as your biggest accomplishment for the project?
Answer: We absolutely believe we have delivered on our original vision for East Beach. From the world-class land planning to the great architecture, pristine landscaping and careful preservation of trees, we accomplished what we set out to do – creating a place people love to live, gather, start a family.
Interviewer: Has East Beach been a catalyst for Ocean View redevelopment? How so? What is happening in Ocean View?
Answer: By taking one look around East Beach, you can see the far-reaching impact this coastal community has had on its surroundings, the city of Norfolk and Hampton Roads. East Beach is a community to emulate. As they say, a rising tide raises all boats, and the East Beach Company is proud for the work that went in to making East Beach a legacy community for future generations. We are delighted to see the thriving community that the new businesses, apartments, and housing popping up in Ocean View have created.
Interviewer: There has been little public art created in this beautiful coastal community, something that Coastal VA Plein Air will help to alleviate. Why did you decide to become a major sponsor of Coastal VA Plein Air? (community building non-profit; public art; artists capturing the beauty of Tidewater)
Answer: The arts are an important part of community building. Frye Properties has often featured art at our events. Our neighbors, businesses and artists alike enjoy the beauty that art provides to neighborhoods. Art also inspires others to create, to want to give back either monetarily or by volunteering and to protect what makes a community unique and prosperous. Thank you to Coastal VA Plein Air for adding so much to the beauty of the area and to inspiring others to follow their artistic talents. We hope the community joins the artists on Sunday, April 18th, at CoVA brewing to actively participate in this one-of-a-kind event that creates beautiful art that gives back to the community in so many tangible and intangible ways. Thank you.