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Henry Hotel funds OK'd
$600,000 to assist its redevelopment
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The state on Tuesday awarded a $600,000 grant to help redevelop the Henry Hotel in uptown Martinsville.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Martinsville will receive a $600,000 state grant that will enable a planned redevelopment of the former Henry Hotel uptown to move forward.

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) grant on Tuesday. The city’s grant was one of five awarded for projects statewide.

The IRF program is intended to help finance construction projects pertaining to local and regional economic development initiatives — mainly in distressed communities — by helping to leverage other funding sources, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

IRF focuses on “bringing derelict structures back to life,” McDonnell said in the release. “By revitalizing vacant structures, we are encouraging economic growth in communities that want new investments and creating new vitality for vacant buildings.”

Martinsville’s $600,000 was the maximum amount that localities could get.

Wayne Knox, the city’s director of community development, said that upon finding out the grant was awarded, city officials involved in the revitalization effort were “doing cartwheels, partying and looking for champagne to pop” open — in their minds, anyway.

The grant is “the critical piece” needed for the former hotel’s renovation to proceed, according to City Manager Leon Towarnicki.

A Petersburg firm, Waukeshaw Development Inc., aims to spend roughly $3.4 million to convert the four-story building at the intersection of East Church and Broad streets into 24 apartments and four commercial units.

Waukeshaw and the city “can now go forward” in their efforts to secure additional financing and locate contractors interested in doing the project, Knox said.

When it is finished, the redeveloped property will be “an exciting buzz” in the central business district, Mayor Kim Adkins said during the Martinsville City Council meeting on Tuesday.

City officials will meet with Waukeshaw representatives in January to start the process, he added.

Two past attempts to acquire an IRF grant for the project were unsuccessful because the city had not yet received a firm commitment from a developer at those times, officials have said.

The city bought the former hotel at a public auction in 2009 for $425,000. It used $95,000 of its own funds, and The Harvest Foundation contributed a loan to cover the rest. The foundation has since forgiven the loan.

Allyson Rothrock, executive director of Harvest, called the grant “wonderful news” for Martinsville and the surrounding area.

It’s “another peg in the wheel” for local revitalization efforts that ultimately will mean “a new start for all of us” as a vibrant community, Rothrock said.

Waukeshaw has done similar redevelopment projects statewide. In July, the city council voted to sell the former hotel to the firm for $1.

 

 
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