Developments perk up Danville
Danville City Council members faced a dilemma three years ago.
Council members could pay up to $185,000 to demolish a crumbling stucco apartment building on Jefferson Avenue, or they could spend $75,000 in matching funds to augment a $125,000 grant from the Virginia Housing Development Authority to stabilize the property, which was declared unfit for occupancy a few years earlier.
Council members voted 6-3 to save the nearly 100-year-old building, which has now landed in the hands of local developers who plan to make it habitable again.
“People haven’t lived in it for 15 or 20 years,” says developer Jason Wilson, who began developing residential properties in Danville in 2018 with partner Steve Staats. “It just needs a total gut and remodel.”
Wilson, who developed the Smith Seeds Lofts residential property and Lynn Street Market, says he expects they will spend about $2 million redeveloping the property into 21 units.
With groundbreaking set this fall for the $400 million Caesars Virginia casino in the city’s Schoolfield area, there’s more development activity all over Danville. Late last year, The Bee, a boutique hotel, opened in the former home of the Danville Register & Bee newspaper after a few months’ delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “There’s quite a bit of interest and quite a bit of development underway as we speak,” says Corrie Bobe, Danville’s economic development director.
The city’s Industrial Development Authority recently received a $100,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to pay for the second phase of brownfield environmental assessments at the Schoolfield and White Mill sites, Bobe says.
Both locations served as textile manufacturing facilities until the 1990s, and the environmental studies will allow redevelopment to move forward.
In 2019, Danville’s IDA approved an agreement with The Alexander Co. that gave the Wisconsin operation an option to buy the White Mill site for $3 million — the price the IDA paid for the property in 2017 — although it’s not certain that the company has decided to move forward with the purchase. A spokesperson declined to comment.
Moving forward, Bobe feels optimistic the city will see more growth. “We are constantly looking for ways to entice the private sector to move forward with redevelopment efforts,” she says.