City Council members will support a request by Hampton University President William Harvey to hire a consultant to create a plan to revitalize the downtown area.

Harvey outlined his proposal to the council on Wednesday night, his first public comments about the project since taking a lead role in the effort last fall.

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“I don’t just want to get a report about another part of our city,” he said. “I thought the thing to do was to look at this in a holistic approach and that is what we’ll do. Harvey has spent about nine months assembling a 24-member board, Hampton First, that will lead the project. The board includes pastors, real estate developers, bankers, artists and small business owners.

HU’s president said the group will take community input and use those ideas to help guide consultant Sasaki Associates. He’s asking for $280,000 from the city to hire the Boston-based planner to create a new master plan for downtown.

City Council member were overwhelmingly in favor of Harvey’s proposal.

“If we are going to be successful, then we need to hitch our wagon to the things he’s doing,” Councilman Donnie Tuck said.

Tuck said that even though he aims to closely watch the city’s funds, he is excited about Harvey’s proposal.

Harvey agreed last fall to lead the downtown redevelopment project after Steiner+Associates, of Columbus, Ohio, published a report outlining challenges Hampton will need to overcome and goals it will need to achieve to increase tourism and business development.

Harvey said he wanted to use the Steiner report as a springboard for the Hampton First board, whose members are participating as volunteers.

Sasaki is already creating a master plan for Fort Monroe, and has been hired by the city to update the Phoebus and Buckroe master plans. Revamping those neighborhood plans is expected to cost the city about $250,000 each. City Manager Mary Bunting said the money to hire Sasaki will come from money from an account originally earmarked for a private development that never materialized.

A report distributed by Harvey outlines Hampton First’s vision for downtown that includes opening the waterfront to the public by relocating buildings, developing an aquatic theme and hosting more water-based events such as sailing regattas and boat shows.

Public transportation could also take downtown visitors to neighboring communities such as Coliseum Central, Phoebus, Fort Monroe and Buckroe. Read full