Western Virginia localities join forces to buy developable tract.
Roanoke County, Roanoke and Salem announced plans Monday to jointly acquire about 106 acres along Interstate 81, near Exit 143, that will help fill the region’s need for larger sites for development.
The property is on Wood Haven Road in Roanoke County.
The site consists of five parcels that already were on the market and are under option to the Roanoke Valley Development Corp. for a purchase price of $5.25 million. The corporation has a long history of key, short-term investments for economic development.
It represents the first project of the Western Virginia Regional Industrial Facility Authority (WVRIFA). Formed in 2013, WVRIFA, came into being because of the Virginia Regional Industrial Facilities Act, which allows members to share in tax revenue produced by the eventual user.
“This is such a big step in a deliberate process to acquire much-needed land and make the region more competitive,” Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership and executive director of the WVRIFA, said in a statement.
“The median acreage requirement in our inquiry database is around 50 acres, and about 54 percent of site requirements are 51 acres or more. Contrast that to our inventory, which currently has no sites above 50 acres that are identified as ready to go. This site, while not ready-to-go today, is closer than most.”
The region’s recent string of successes with Deschutes Brewery, Eldor Corp., and Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits all coming to the Roanoke area made the need for large, ready-to-go sites more compelling, added Doughty.
“This is a gateway property whose high visibility will help us make a statement about the region,” said Roanoke County Board Chairman Jason Peters. “We will target high wage, high-value projects that help us achieve high-quality development compatible with the location.”
The three governments plan to take action at upcoming meetings to approve agreements that will facilitate acquisition and financing through the WVRIFA. A loan to the Authority from Union Bank & Trust will provide financing for the project.
Other WVRIFA members are Botetourt County, Franklin County, and Vinton. Each locality is offered the opportunity to opt into an authority project and assume a share of the expense and revenue.
Roanoke County and the city of Roanoke will own 44.2 percent of the property, and the city of Salem will have an 11.6 percent interest. The cost of acquisition and early development is estimated at $10 million. The WVRIFA will pursue grants and transportation funds to help pay for additional infrastructure.