Excitingly, the towns of Vinton, Warsaw and Wytheville will receive Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) awards, totaling more than $1.4 million, to support the redevelopment of industrial and/or commercial structures in their respective localities. Projects were reviewed and evaluated competitively, placing an emphasis on those with a high 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 where the property is located and an identified and feasible end use.
“These blighted buildings oftentimes reflect an economic downturn in the towns’ past, but through revitalization and redevelopment, the community is breathing new life into these neighborhoods. These projects align with the local and regional economic development goals and will leverage additional public and private investment in the towns receiving awards.” Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Brian Ball
The timely redevelopment of derelict structures often requires more than local resources to attract private-sector investment, and various financial barriers can present challenges, especially in distressed commercial corridors. IRF funding can provide gap financing, leveraging local and private resources to help localities achieve market-driven redevelopment of deteriorated structures, and create a catalyst for long-term employment opportunities and ongoing revitalization.
“This funding will not only help transform deteriorating or unused structures, it will bring purpose and new opportunity to the surrounding communities. With these three projects, we are making important investments in our future. As we focus on recovering from the impacts of the pandemic, our administration is focused on driving economic growth to every corner of the Commonwealth, especially in rural Virginia.” – Governor Northam
Gish Mill Redevelopment Project
The town of Vinton was awarded $468,750 to help redevelop the historic Gish Mill into a mixed-use site that includes a restaurant, speakeasy, seasonal market, and lodging rooms. The IRF loan will be used for the rehabilitation and repair of the structure, as well as the demolition and removal of specific components. Vinton purchased the property in 2015 and is in the process of selling it to a local development group, which has private financing from local lending institutions committed for the purchase and renovation. This project is expected to create 37 full- and part-time jobs.
Warsaw Hardware Building Redevelopment Project
The town of Warsaw was awarded $468,750 and will utilize the IRF loan for the buildout of a centrally located mixed-use site that will have a brewery space, taproom, upstairs event space and patio. In 2017, Warsaw received a $1 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and this project will help further the locally developed revitalization plan. Matching funds for this project will come from Old Rappahannock Development Company, and the town will contribute $93,000 in economic incentives. The project is expected to create four full-time and five to 10 part-time jobs.
Millwald Theatre Restoration and Economic Revitalization Project
The town of Wytheville was awarded $500,000 to help rehabilitate the Millwald Theatre into a community auditorium for live and film entertainment, as well as a center for performing arts education. The IRF award will be used for demolition and new construction within the existing structure, a new HVAC system, new plumbing, new electrical upgrades, and architecture and engineering fees. The project is expected to create seven full-time and at least seven part-time jobs.
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