February 19, 2014
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Martinsville officials expect the revitalization of the former Henry Hotel to begin early this summer.
A groundbreaking ceremony tentatively is scheduled for June 15, according to Susan McCulloch, the city’s community planner.
Waukeshaw Development Inc., a Petersburg firm, will spend $3.2 million to convert the four-story building at the intersection of East Church and Broad streets uptown into 24 apartments and four commercial units.
Dave McCormack, the firm’s president, said all of the financing needed for the project has been obtained.
McCormack would not elaborate on the financing because the project has not yet received all of the required regulatory approvals. However, he does not expect any problems in getting those approvals, he said.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources is reviewing the project. Upon receiving that agency’s approval, the project will be forwarded to the National Park Service for its consideration, according to McCormack.
Their approvals are necessary for the project to receive tax credits available to developers renovating historic structures, McCulloch said.
The federal and state governments “want to preserve the historic fabric” of the building because they consider it a historic structure, she said.
In reviewing the project, McCulloch said, they will take into account matters such as construction materials and paint colors to be used; how heating, air-conditioning, sprinkler and electric systems will be updated and whether any historical features and furnishings — such as the lobby’s hotel check-in desk — will be changed.
McCormack said his firm will not remove anything with historical significance.
Those relics are “the biggest asset that the building has,” he said.
When people visit or live in the building in the future, they will easily realize that it once was a hotel, McCulloch added.
The building dates to the 1920s. It first became an apartment complex more than 30 years ago, with hotel rooms apparently being combined to create the apartments, according to Assistant City Manager Wayne Knox.
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 remainder. The foundation has since forgiven the loan.
Martinsville City Council voted in July to sell the building to Waukeshaw, which has done similar revitalization projects across the state, for $1.
Refurbishing the hotel should help spur revitalization in the central business district, local officials and economic developers have said.
In December, the city received a $600,000 state Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) grant to put toward the project. That was critical, officials have said, because it enabled Waukeshaw and the city to proceed with efforts to secure additional financing and find interested contractors.
McCulloch said the project essentially is “on schedule.”.
It took a month, she said, for the city to prepare a “very detailed” grant application, plus more time for the state historic resources department to review the application, seek answers from city officials to questions it had about the project and compare the application to ones of other localities.
The city, Waukeshaw, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and Virginia Community Capital expect to have a contract in place for the IRF grant by the end of this month, McCulloch said.
Virginia Community Capital, which provides financing for community development ventures, is a conduit for the grant, she said.
A project timeline calls for the city to issue a construction permit by May 1 and financing to close by May 15.
“There are tons of work that have to be done” before construction on a revitalization project can proceed, McCormack said.
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