Mayflower Seaside Apartments was celebrated as the tallest apartment building in Virginia when it opened in 1951 on 34th Street. At 171 feet, it towered above beach cottages and bungalows and had clear views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Today, the building is huddled among other towers – hotels, time shares and condominiums. But its new owner is making sure it won’t lose its charm.
Harbor Group International LLC bought the property for $34 million in April. The company is investing $4.8 million in improvements dubbed Mayflower Seaside “re-imagined.”
The first sign of upgrades appeared earlier this month, when crews began painting the facade. Two-toned blue stripes are shaping up to give the Mayflower dimension and an updated look, said Tonia Kovach, property manager.
Other brightening-up projects are underway inside, too.
Images from Virginia Beach through the years are going up on the corridor walls. The indoor pool and fitness area will undergo facelifts this winter. The outdoor pool, on the building’s southwest side and hidden from the street by a wall, will be spruced up with shaded areas and a fire pit.
“We’re just now diving into the fun stuff,” said Kovach.
Part of the motivation behind Harbor Group’s investment in the apartment building improvements stemmed from other projects in the neighborhood.
Kovach acknowledged that Gold Key/PHR Hotels and Resorts’ Ocean Beach Club towers, east of Mayflower Seaside Apartments, and its new 31Ocean apartment complex on Laskin Road, set the bar for a more modern, beachy look in the Oceanfront’s north resort area.
It was time to breathe life back into the iconic Mayflower.
“This was an opportunity to restore the original flair that it had in its big days,” Kovach said.
Martha White, a former resident, wrote in a Beacon “Looking Back” feature in 2008 that the Mayflower was at the “zenith of elegance and desirability” in 1964 when she moved there with her mother. Living on the 14th floor looking south was like “living in a Kodak postcard,” she wrote. White worked at Ingram’s Pharmacy, located at that time in the Mayflower basement.
Today, a cafe, pub and dentist office are on-site. Part of the renovations will include new laundry centers on each hall, a dog-washing station in the basement and a business center in the lobby.
The building has 266 units from studios to four-bedrooms, ranging in price from $800 to $3,000 per month. North-facing units have some of the clearest views of the ocean. West-facing apartment homes can see Town Center and beyond.
“We have really nice views from any direction,” said Kovach.
By Stacy Parker
© November 21, 2013