Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander announced today at his annual State of the City address an innovative new partnership with Tidewater Community College that will transform Norfolk’s NEON District by providing increased educational and economic opportunities for the community and all of Hampton Roads.

The City of Norfolk is donating to the TCC Real Estate Foundation the site of the former Greyhound bus station at the corner of Brambleton and Monticello avenues to make way for a dynamic cultural and academic building in the heart of the NEON District.

The 47,000-square-foot Patricia & Douglas Perry TCC Center for Visual & Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management will be a jewel, he said.


President Kolovani and Mayor Alexander at Norfolk’s State of the City.

“This is an incredible opportunity to build on the vibrancy and opportunity that is being created in the NEON District,” said Mayor Alexander. “We are extremely grateful for the support of the Perry family, and their ongoing efforts to make Norfolk a destination for the arts and culture.”

The project, with an anticipated completion date of summer 2020, will be funded entirely by private donations raised through Go Further! TCC’s Campaign for a Competitive Workforce. Norfolk’s Patricia and Douglas Perry are the lead donors in the initiative.

The Perrys were early patrons of the NEON District. They created the Glass Wheel Studio on Olney Road and supported the Hurrah Players’ move to their new headquarters on West Wilson Avenue in 2017.

As part of the TCC project, they have agreed to donate the Glass Wheel Studio to the college, which will house its renowned glass-blowing program, newly developed glass fusing program, ceramics, sculpture and public exhibition spaces there. The TCC Pat and Doug Perry Glass Wheel Arts Center @ NEON could open as soon as summer 2019.

The collaboration among the city, the Patricia and Douglas Perry Foundation and the college is “a transformative moment for TCC and Norfolk,” said college President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani. It will further energize the NEON District and nearby St. Paul’s area by:

  • Expanding TCC’s one-of-a-kind visual arts education program
  • Training the next generation of chefs with a comprehensive culinary arts program
  • Creating opportunities for collaboration between culinary and visual arts programs
  • Providing, among five culinary program kitchens, a test kitchen open to the community and prospective entrepreneurs.
  • Inaugurating a program in hospitality and restaurant management
  • Providing dual-enrollment opportunities for Norfolk high school students and workforce education to residents
  • Creating a vibrant and inviting dining and arts experience for students, residents and visitors

“TCC, the Perrys and the City of Norfolk share more than a vision for the arts,” said President Kolovani. “As wonderful as this new building will be, this is a venture that relies on community engagement and collaborative partnerships that are all integral to the effort to revitalize the NEON District.

“Nothing we have talked about today would be possible without the generous support of the Perrys.”

TCC has long sought a new home in which to expand its culinary arts program, the only nationally accredited one at a public institution in Hampton Roads. Currently located in the Stanley Walker Technology Building at 350 Granby St., the program currently has 224 students.

The two-story NEON location will allow the college to house a student-run restaurant open to the public, act as an incubator for start-up culinary businesses to rent kitchen space, offer open-enrollment culinary courses and host local and national culinary competitions. Additional programs are planned in baking and pastry and food science/dietetics. Five fully-equipped kitchens will be part of the new space, which will allow TCC to serve nearly three times more culinary students.

TCC’s visual arts program will bring studio arts and graphic design to downtown Norfolk in a new location that is in proximity to the TCC Pat and Doug Perry Glass Wheel Arts Center @ NEON and the Chrysler Museum, with its Perry Glass Studio. Offerings include drawing, painting, photography, film and video production, printmaking, advertising and print design, and web and multimedia design.

Chrysler Museum director Erik Neil said, “The Chrysler Museum is very excited to welcome Tidewater Community College as our neighbor, and we look forward to the many opportunities to expand our existing partnerships, particularly with our glass programs.  All of us in Hampton Roads, including the Chrysler, are enormously grateful to Doug and Pat Perry for their incredible generosity to our community.”

TCC will also establish a hospitality program geared toward restaurant management in Norfolk to meet growing workforce demand and attract new students. The college currently houses a lodging and food service management program on its Virginia Beach Campus.

President Kolovani said the college is also exploring options to grow its dual enrollment program with Norfolk Public Schools in culinary arts and restaurant management.

“We are putting community members first in how we approach all of the possibilities today’s announcement brings,” President Kolovani said.

TCC taking a lead role in downtown redevelopment is nothing new. In 1997, the college started a chain reaction that brought businesses, artists, entrepreneurs and tourists to a revitalized Norfolk by locating its Norfolk Campus along Granby Street. The Norfolk Campus Student Center opened in 2011.

“This is such an exciting moment for us,” President Kolovani said. “The City of Norfolk and Pat and Doug Perry are providing us with ‘a perfect storm’ of opportunity. I am grateful for their partnership and their trust in TCC.”