Clarksville, South Hill receive Industrial Revitalization Funds

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Thursday announced more than $1.97 million in Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) awards that includes the towns of Clarksville and South Hill.

Clarksville is slated to receive $600,000 for the Planter’s Tobacco Warehouse Redevelopment, while South Hill is getting $179,036 for the Southern Virginia Food Hub.

The Planter’s Tobacco Warehouse project involves one of the oldest commercial buildings in Clarksville, a historic structure that once housed the oldest continuously existing tobacco market in the state. It was constructed in 1840 and is located at 610 Virginia Avenue.

A developer has proposed to rehabilitate the warehouse into a mixed use commercial and residential development. The $2.6 million adaptive reuse project would utilize 14,000 square feet of space, featuring a restaurant downstairs and roughly 19 upscale apartments.

On Thursday morning, Clarksville Town Manager Jeff Jones reported that he had just received notification that the long-hoped-for grant had been awarded.

“We’re extremely excited about this project,” said Jones. “We feel that this project will help redefine the downtown area while preserving a historic landmark.”

The development project is being handled by Waukesha Development firm, which has a long history of saving and repurposing rundown but historic properties.

Jones expressed his gratitude to everyone who had worked on the process to secure the grant, including Waukesha Development, the Southside Planning District Commission and Sangi Cooper, the Clarksville EDA and town council as well as the longtime owners of the property, the Lenhart Family.

Meanwhile, on the Southern Virginia Food Hub project, South Hill is partnering with Ann Taylor-Wright of the Taylor-Wright Farm Company of Brodnax, a popular local meats producer and vendor at the South Hill Farmers Market, as well as the Community Development Association and the Southside Planning District Commission.

Taylor-Wright is developing the Southern Virginia Food Hub as a site where locally sourced meats, fruits and vegetables can be sold and commercial kitchen equipment will be available for use by farmers and others to produce value-added products.

The business is planned to be located at the corner of Danville Street and Mecklenburg Avenue in the downtown area in building space adjacent to The Colonial Center for Performing Arts.

South Hill Town Manager Kim Callis said the Southern Virginia Food Hub will occupy the Farmers Bakers Market space and the area behind the garage door next to the bakers market that is currently used to build sets for the C.A.T.S. performances. The space is approximately 7,000 square feet in area.

The building is owned by the Community Development Association.

The grant funding of $179,036 will help pay for commercial kitchen equipment, which would be owned by the Community Development Association and permanently located in the building.

The dollar-for-dollar grant match of $179,036 is being provided by a USDA Rural Development grant. The town is not required to provide any matching funds.

IRF provides gap financing through grants and loans for construction projects aligned with local and regional economic development strategies.

“Revitalization of these derelict and empty structures brings new life into local communities and spurs public and private investment for economic development,” said McAuliffe. “I am pleased to announce these awards that will direct state funds to areas of the Commonwealth that are in need. The creation of sustainable infrastructure is crucial to helping these communities recover and building a new Virginia economy.”

Projects were reviewed and evaluated competitively, with an emphasis on blight reduction, 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.

The maximum award is $600,000 per project. Twelve applications totaling more than $6.2 million in funding requests were received. The funds are intended to leverage local and private resources to achieve market-driven redevelopment of these derelict structures, creating catalysts for longterm employment opportunities and ongoing physical and economic revitalization.