Nine months following the closure of Norfolk’s Hershee Bar, one of the oldest and last lesbian bars on the East Coast, demolition has finally begun on the parcel of land where the bar operated for 35 years.
In 2018, the owners of the property on which the bar stands sold it to the City of Norfolk for $1.5 million. The closing of the sale and transfer of ownership to the City of Norfolk is contingent upon demolition of the buildings and environmental remediation of the soil where the Hershee Bar and at one time the New Life Metropolitan Community Church stood.
The sale and subsequent closure of the Hershee Bar in October 2018 mobilized many in the local community to address city leaders about the importance of LGBTQ spaces, protest the sale of the property, and assist the owner with relocation. (Read our coverage of this issue here).
To date, there has not been a formal announcement by the City regarding promised financial efforts to assist Annette Stone, owner of the Hershee Bar, relocate the business to another location. Additionally, Stone has not yet found a suitable location for the iconic bar.
Once the final demolition and environmental remediation of the soil is complete and the property is transferred to the City of Norfolk, community leaders are planning on turning the 1.07 acre of land in the Five Points intersection into a civic space/park. At a Greater Norview Community Task Force meeting held on August 1, Jason Baines, Landscape Architect for Norfolk’s Department of Recreation, Parks, and Open Space, presented a draft concept plan for the parcel of land that may include:
- 1/2 acre lawn
- 6,400 sq. ft. hardscaped plaza
- Plaza/performance space
- Art and signage
- Parking for approximately 16 cars
- Trees, landscaping and lighting
- Addressing traffic issues and making the area more pedestrian friendly.
The task force will be choosing the public art for the space and is working with Jason Somma, the City of Norfolk’s new Artist in Residence on concepts for the parcel of land.