Hopewell, Martinsville and St. Paul receive funds to revitalize derelict downtown buildings

On Dec. 10, Governor Bob McDonnell announced more than $2 million in Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) grants, including grants for the designated VMS communities of Hopewell, Martinsville and St. Paul. The funds leverage local and private resources to achieve market-driven redevelopment of derelict structures, creating catalysts for long-term employment opportunities and on-going physical and economic revitalization.

“This program focuses on bringing derelict structures back to life. By revitalizing vacant structures, we are encouraging economic growth in communities that want new investments and creating new vitality for vacant buildings.” — Governor Bob McDonnell


Hopewell and its partner, the nonprofit group Capital Area Partnership Uplifting People, plan to redevelop the historic, but dilapidated and vacant storefront located at 238 East Broadway, in the heart of downtown Hopewell.  The mixed-use redevelopment will provide the Main Street district with a high quality coffee shop, commercial art studios, an art gallery/event space, an employment training program and a possible retail incubator and art education spaces. The project will also convert a vacant city lot located adjacent to the property into an outdoor patio/art terrace space. The project will invest more than $900,000 in public and private funds to take some of downtown Hopewell’s worst properties and make them its best.


The Henry Hotel, designed by the same architect who designed its twin, the Beverley Hotel in Staunton, Virginia, was built in 1925. It is in the heart of Martinsville’s Main Street district, blocks from the New College Institute’s new facility and is a contributing building in the Martinsville National Historic District and the city’s local historic district. In recent decades, the building fell into disrepair and became a 33-room efficiency apartment building for low-income residents.

The city purchased the Henry Hotel in 2009 and is now partnering with Waukeshaw Development Inc. to convert the building into a mixed-use development featuring 25 residential apartments and four commercial spaces. The new apartments will be a mixture of studio and one-bedroom market-rate units that will help meet demand for high quality, new housing in the Martinsville’s Main Street district. The project will invest more than $3 million in public and private funds to convert one of the Main Street district’s largest white elephants into one of the community’s newest assets.

St. Paul

Willis Building in St. Paul
Willis Building in St. Paul

The Willis Building, built around 1922, is the largest vacant structure in St. Paul’s Main Street district. After years of neglect, the town purchased the property to stabilize the structure and secure it for redevelopment. The renovation and reuse of the Willis Building will allow St. Paul to maximize the benefits of the outdoor-tourism-based regional economic development initiative known as Appalachian Spring. The Appalachian Spring initiative recognizes St. Paul as a gateway to the Clinch River, the Breaks Interstate Park and the Spearhead Trails, all major regional outdoor tourism destinations.  The Willis Building will provide space for outdoor-tourism-related entrepreneurial endeavors by providing affordable and accessible retail and commercial space. This project will invest more than $1 million to convert a massive, vacant and blighting space in St.Paul’s Main Street district into an outdoor tourism entrepreneur destination.