Pleasure House Point Saved!
On July 26, 2007, The Virginian-Pilot
headline was ominous: “Indigo Dunes Project
Wins Panel Approval.”
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission
had just overturned a decision by a local wetlands board, thereby advancing plans of a
developer to build more than 1,000 homes
on Pleasure House Point in Virginia Beach.
Pleasure House Point, a quiet 118-acre
peninsula of marsh, sandy beaches, and
trees on the Lynnhaven River, is the last
large, undeveloped parcel on the Lynnhaven
River. The Indigo Dunes development faced
numerous hurdles. However, despite fierce
opposition from the nearby community and
the City of Virginia Beach’s longtime wish to
preserve it as open space, the wetland decision seemed to confirm suspicions that
Pleasure House Point would eventually be
lost to intensive development.
What a difference a few years makes. When
the 2008 collapse of the housing market
halted the Indigo Dunes project, the bank
foreclosed. Seizing a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity, CBF partnered with the city to
to buy Pleasure House Point and protect it
for conservation and recreation. The Trust
for Public Land and this public-private coali-
tion rallied, raised $13 million, and pur-
chased the site last July.
The Virginian-Pilot headline on July 12, 2012
had a different ring: “That Land Is Your Land.”
“This is one of the most breathtaking spots
in all of Virginia Beach,” Virginia Beach
Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr., said of the
acquisition. “And now it’s ours!”
Sessoms joined CBF President Will Baker,
The Trust for Public Land President Will
Rogers, and other government, business, and
community leaders to celebrate the preservation at a ribbon-cutting event in October.
Standing amid the trees and marshes on that
sunny October day, Baker announced the
launch of CBF’s new $20 million campaign
for Pleasure House Point.
The campaign includes $10 million to pur-
chase a 10-acre corner of Pleasure House
Point and to build a bar-raising environmen-
tal center, to be called The Brock
Environmental Center (see below). It also
seeks $5 million to support and enhance
advocacy, environmental education, restora-
tion, and outreach programs; and $5 million
to endow these efforts.
CBF envisions that the new center will meet
the “Living Building Challenge,” a set of
strict sustainability standards that require
“net zero” environmental impacts. When
completed in 2014, The Brock
Environmental Center will be the first Living
Building in Virginia and one of only 150 in
the world. And reflecting the community
collaboration that saved Pleasure House
Point, CBF will share office space in the new
center with Lynnhaven River NOW, a partner watershed advocacy and restoration
group in Virginia Beach.
CBF hopes to complete the Pleasure House
Point campaign and break ground on The
Brock Environmental Center in 2013.
uFor more information, go to cbf.org/php.
Joan and Macon Brock of Virginia Beach, Virginia, are extraordinary philanthropists. Their impressive history of giving spans decades and interests, and reflects their personal desire to leave this
world better than they found it. In keeping with this noble goal, their gift to The Brock Environmental
Center at Pleasure House Point will indelibly enrich and improve the Hampton Roads community.
“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is a leader in environmental initiatives, championing collaboration with local conservation groups in support of clean waterways and the Chesapeake Bay itself.
The Brock Environmental Center will be a destination for environmental education and cooperation
in the region. This project is an unparalleled chance for conservation, education, restoration, and
community-building, one that we are honored to support,” Macon recently stated.
Joan and Macon have deep roots in the community, donating their time and support to many local
organizations. CBF is immensely grateful for their leadership.