East Beach Norfolk, Coastal VA Plein Air Golden Paintbrush Sponsor Meet East Beach Realty’s Sales Manager, Donna Alexander
(Norfolk, VA) East Beach Realty has generously supported Coastal VA Plein Air for several years. Sales Manager Donna Alexander has been with East Beach Realty since its inception. She joined the team as the sales person for East Beach when the design was only a concept in the minds of the developers. Donna was willing to take the risk as she was an “Ocean View girl” both in spirit and reality. Her family has lived in Ocean View for at least 5 generations and according to Donna, “I have been fortunate to have seen the drastic change in my lifetime from what was a blighted area to the amazing neighborhood that I am lucky enough to call my home.” She went to grade school and high school here and still maintains very close friendships with many of the same local families that her mother and grandmother knew. With Ocean View in her DNA, she was eager to be part of the amazing transformation of the area that was developed by Bart Frye and East Beach Company. Donna took a chance to play a role in the development that became known as East Beach. She maintains a passion about this area and was excited to be able to be part of the improvements that have made East Beach into what it is today. In the interview below, she shares that passion and how what was once a mere concept became a reality.
Interviewer: How were you successful in sharing the vision for the property and convincing so many to share your dreams by investing in their homes here?
Donna: A great challenge was the visualization and development of the first street in East Beach. This street of sixteen homes provided the catalyst that brought people in to view the neighborhood and then to buy homes in the area. Our military families played a key role in this as they became comfortable with the concept of a strong community with parks and common areas instead of large yards. This was a large consideration for them since they want to feel like their families are surrounded by support if they are deployed. The architecture really wasn’t as easy for buyers to visualize until we had the first street built for Homearama in 2004. This event brought about 130,000 people to tour the first group of 16 homes. Once they were built, the interest and appreciation for the plans, as well as how the site was developed went to a whole new level. Maintaining the large trees, opening the access to the Beach/Bay, placing a clubhouse on the beach, and creating multiple park areas created a story that we are still seeing play out even today.
Interviewer: People are flocking to East Beach. How many residential units are there in the community?
Donna: There are currently about 550 homes in addition to condos which are located on either Pleasant Avenue or Pretty Lake Avenue.
Interviewer: What is the next step for East Beach?
What we now know is that there will be a few moderate sized single family homes and some bungalows in the next phase of development. This will be the ideal option for a someone looking for a smaller space. Frye Properties built the first bungalows (between 700-1000 sq ft ) around the Cavalier Hotel in VA Beach and they were overwhelmingly popular. We are anticipating that construction will start on this phase in the next few months with pre-sales starting prior to the construction start. We are not quite ready to do that yet but we will let everyone know when we have the details to pass along.
Interviewer: You grew up in Ocean View. How has it changed? What do you see as the future of the community?
Donna: I used to tell people I lived in Norfolk and would say Bay View instead of Ocean View. That was because Ocean View had been so neglected in many ways that
it had a bad reputation around the area. You will see today that people occasionally come to East Beach and say, “I had no idea this was so amazing.” It has taken years for this area to overcome the stigma and while there is still some work to be done, it is incredible what has changed since the development started in 2003. East Beach was the start of that change and, as you can see now, some of the locals have bumper stickers that say “O.V. before it was cool.” To see the area change so drastically has been something I never would have imagined in my lifetime. During the past few years, the change in Ocean View has been moving much faster because of the influx of restaurants and additional areas of development. This is helping bring more and more families here who are excited about being so close the beach, marinas, and the bases and their facilities. In addition, having new housing in Norfolk (which has only happened through redevelopment) motivates new buyers to be part of this social and vibrant community. I feel very fortunate to see Ocean View in demand and as East Beach finishes up, the new construction and the resale value of homes is definitely on the rise.
Interviewer: East Beach Realty has been a multi-year sponsor of Coastal VA Plein Air. What are your reasons for supporting the organization?
Donna: The arts are something that bring so many of us joy! For us to be able to watch the artists and their talent celebrated is something that we are thrilled to be a small part of. There are so many talented people around us that have limited options to show their work locally. This forum is a wonderful way to highlight the area and bring even more people to see what we love about living here. Historically, the local arts have been focused around either Downtown Norfolk or the Ocean Front of VA Beach. We believe that having such a forum as Coastal VA Plein Air in Ocean View is long overdue and becomes more exciting every year. Bravo to the creators of this event and thank you for believing in OV with us.
Interviewer: People attend Coastal VA Plein Air year after year. What advice would you give to a first time attendee of the event this year?
Donna: Spend the day, enjoy the surroundings, and watch the artists work and display their amazing talents. In life, we collect items that bring us wonderful memories of times we have enjoyed and places we have traveled. Find a piece of art that brings you joy and have it displayed to remind yourself of these times. You will cherish it and it will be a forever reminder of the time you strolled through the lovely community and enjoyed the bay breezes, the large live oak trees, and a very special group of people. These are our treasures and worth sharing with everyone.