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Virginia Awards $24.7M in Industrial Revitalization Funds to 20 Statewide Projects

Thu December 29, 2022 - Southeast Edition
Virginia DHCD & CEG

The city of Danville received $5 million to redevelop the White Mill. (Rendering courtesy of Architectural Partners)
The city of Danville received $5 million to redevelop the White Mill. (Rendering courtesy of Architectural Partners)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced more than $24.7 million in Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) grants to 20 projects statewide on Dec. 27.

Fifteen of the grants will go toward providing gap financing for construction projects in the southernmost third of Virginia and are designed to be aligned with local and regional economic development strategies, primarily in distressed communities.

"The transformation of older, vacant or blighted structures into productive, usable spaces is crucial to catalyzing economic growth to create thriving communities," Youngkin said in a statement. "The [IRF] continues to be an important resource for those redevelopment efforts, spurring regional partnerships, economic development, and job growth across the Commonwealth."

According to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the IRF leverages local and private resources to achieve market-driven redevelopment of vacant and deteriorated industrial and commercial properties. The program targets vacant non-residential structures whose poor condition creates physical and economic blight to the surrounding area in which the structure is located.

To qualify for the funds, DHCD noted that projects are reviewed and evaluated competitively, with an emphasis on those with an elevated level of blight, identification of impediments to economic development efforts, alignment with regional or local strategies, availability of matching resources, the level of community distress surrounding the property, and an identified and workable end use.

"These funded projects are transforming deteriorated structures that impede future economic development efforts into small businesses, tourism destinations, and sources of community pride," commented Caren Merrick, the state's secretary of commerce and trade. "Through IRF grants, we are able to make investments in both Virginia's infrastructure and vibrancy by supporting impactful projects, encouraging strategic collaborations and fostering economic development efforts across the Commonwealth."

The 20 awarded projects will create more than 600 jobs, leverage an added $72.8 million in public and private investment, and include five mixed-use projects that will create nearly 200 new residential units, DHCD said in a news release.

Since 2012, the IRF program has funded 38 projects that have revitalized vacant, blighted buildings. These projects have generated more than $121 million in other public and private investment and resulted in the creation of more than 485 jobs across Virginia.

Most of the IRF funding went to planned construction in communities to the south of an imaginary line running east to west across the state, passing through the northern Richmond suburbs to the West Virginia border.

Following is a list of those 15 projects, along with their locations, descriptions and IRF grant amounts.

White Mill Redevelopment

The city of Danville received $5 million to redevelop the White Mill, a 20-acre property on the south bank of the Dan River, with a focus on transforming a 650,000-sq.-ft. industrial building which once served as a textile mill.

The two-phase project will remake the building into a modern commercial space with interior parking and 150 new housing units. Its first phase will generate over $34 million in capital investment and create over 100 new jobs.

John Randolph Hotel Redevelopment

The South Boston Industrial Development Authority (IDA) will use $3 million to redevelop the historic John Randolph Hotel, located in the central business district of South Boston, into a modern boutique hotel featuring 30 rooms, a first-class restaurant and a rooftop bar. The project's creators expect to hire 22 full-time and 20 part-time employees.

Harris Memorial Armory Redevelopment

With $1 million from the IRF, the town of Blackstone, in partnership with Virginia State University in nearby Petersburg, will rehabilitate the Harris Memorial Armory Center into a multi-purpose facility that will offer workforce training programs to the community — specifically skilled hospitality labor. The center also will host Transition Solutions Enterprise, a nonprofit offering transitional services for individuals transitioning from prison. This project will create at least 35 new full-time jobs.

Project Light Peer Recovery Center

In southwest Virginia, $1 million will be used by the city of Galax to redevelop a blighted former grocery store into a space for nonprofits providing services to the community, including addiction-to-work peer recovery counseling, after school and adult mentoring by skilled educators, and prepared meals and boxed meals for the food insecure. In addition, 10 low-rent office spaces will allow graduates of Celebrate Recovery and low-income community members to begin start-up businesses.

The DHCD noted that at least 10 new jobs will be created once this building rehab is complete, with the potential for many more.

Old Wood Finishing Factory

Near Norfolk, in the town of Kenbridge, $1 million in IRF grant money will redevelop a former wood-finishing factory into a manufacturing facility and distribution center, producing environmentally friendly food packaging containers using softwood pulp, hardwood pulp and other agricultural residues. The plant's proximity to the Hampton Roads shipping lanes provides opportunities for global product distribution, and, once operations begin at the facility, it should employ 25 or more people.

Deen Building Redevelopment

With $990,000 in funding, the small town of St. Paul, in partnership with St. Paul Tomorrow Inc., will redevelop the Deen Building into a distillery that will serve as a tourist attraction and hospitality asset for the mountain community on the Clinch River. The Deen Building, a former department store in the town's historic Western Front area, will be renovated into a 3,600-sq.-ft. distillery and restaurant that will include retail space for shelf-stable, locally produced foods, merchandise and artisan products.

Business Development Center

The Economic Development Authority of Patrick County, in partnership with STEP Inc., will use $900,000 in IRF money to renovate downtown Stuart's former hardware store into a multi-use facility to meet community needs, including childcare services, co-working space and a business development center for use by entrepreneurs and residents. As many as 10 jobs will be created by the renovation, and, when finished, will provide childcare services for up to 75 children.

Lamb Arts Center

The city of Hopewell, northeast of Petersburg, will complete the Lamb Arts renovation project with $850,000 and turn the blighted structure into a space for community art classes, open studios, exhibitions, special events and venue rentals. In doing so, it will provide a safe and reliable space for nonprofits to expand their youth after-school programming.

When ready for use, Lamb Arts will employ four new full-time positions, with an additional 45 part-time jobs projected after five years of operation.

Cockram Mill Redevelopment

Patrick County, in partnership with a private developer, will renovate the former Cockram Grist Mill into the Freehouse Meadows of Dan Brewery at a cost of $850,000. The proposed facility also will include a full-service restaurant, tap room, lodging facility and rentable venue space, with 20 employees.

Bailey Robbins Building Renovation

The town of Pennington Gap plans to take its $850,000 IRF grant and upgrade the former Bailey-Robbins building into a facility capable of housing two businesses. The building was purchased by Pennington Gap with the intent of stimulating economic development activity in the surrounding downtown area. The renovation will allow the proposed coffee shop and radio station to become focal points in the area, attracting visitors and creating 12-14 jobs.

Project Growler

A redevelopment of the old General Chemical Co. building into a brewery in Pulaski will utilize a $750,000 grant. The owner of Great Wilderness Brewing has committed to operating at this location once renovations are complete. The reuse project will create three to five full-time jobs and several part-time jobs.

Sunnyside Manor

With its $650,000 grant, the mountain town of Tazewell will renovate the former Sunnyside Manor into a regionally recognizable, short-term housing development. The popular nearby Back of the Dragon driving route (Va. Highway 16) draws motorsport enthusiasts from around the world, and this project will enable the town to keep that tourism funding within the local economy by allowing visitors to remain in the locality overnight. Once Sunnyside Manor is upgraded, DHCD expects at least seven jobs will be created as well as new local and state taxes.

Factory Flats Revitalization

The IRF awarded $450,000 to Botetourt County, which, in partnership with Factory Flats LLC, will renovate the former Groendyk manufacturing facility into a mixed-use complex, complete with a brewery and retail operation, and up to 21 housing units.

This project, north of Roanoke, will rejuvenate economic activity along the town's main corridor, as well as provide much needed housing opportunities in the area. The brewery alone will create 10 new jobs, in addition to the generation of new local and state tax revenue.

Town of Waverly Brewery

With $300,000 from the state, the rural town of Waverly, in Sussex County, will redevelop a former furniture and home goods store into a mixed-use development with a brewery and event space on the ground floor. The initial phase of the project would bring the brewery and event space components into use, with the second phase creating seven apartment units on the building's second floor.

The reimagining of the old store is expected to be a catalyst for further redevelopment in the area, creating one full-time position and up to seven new part-time jobs upon its opening.

Shaw Building

Charlotte County will use $76,000 to renovate the abandoned Shaw building into a ready-to-use, mixed-use building applicable to many different businesses that will help stimulate economic growth and development in the area. The county will market the property across a myriad of potential uses, including manufacturing, shared support services and workforce development.

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