January 16, 2015
Interior demolition needed to redevelop the former Henry Hotel is nearly finished, and construction of new apartments in the historical structure is starting, according to Martinsville officials.
Waukeshaw Development Inc. is spending about $3.2 million to turn the four-story building at the intersection of East Church and Broad streets uptown into 25 apartments and four commercial units.
The firm hopes to finish construction in May or June and have apartments and commercial units ready to occupy this summer, officials said.
City Manager Leon Towarnicki and Susan McCulloch, the city’s community planner, recently toured the structure and saw construction progressing.
“Pretty significant activity” is going on inside the building, Towarnicki said.
About 95 percent of the interior demolition is completed, he estimated. Frameworks for some apartments are starting to be installed, he added.
Carpet and linoleum are being removed to expose the building’s original wooden floors, McCulloch said.
“Once they (construction workers) clean them up, they’re (the floors) going to look nice,” she said.
Also, an interior wall that separated a stairway from the lobby area was removed, McCulloch said.
The space formerly occupied by a restaurant is being turned into a large apartment suitable for someone with a disability, she added.
Officials said it is hard to vividly describe demolition and construction they have seen going on in the former hotel.
But “I liked what I saw,” McCulloch said. “You can really see ... (impressions of) what the building will look like” inside when construction is finished.
Waukeshaw set up a website, www.henryuptown.com, to detail plans for the building and provide information on how to apply to lease units.
Built in 1921, the upscale hotel’s clients included prominent politicians and business people who visited Martinsville. It lost many clients over the years, though, as people began preferring to stay in motels built near major roads, which contributed to its closing in 1967, a history on the website shows.
The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, eventually evolved into subsidized housing, city officials have said.
In 2009, the city bought the building during a public auction for $425,000, using $95,000 of its own funds. The Harvest Foundation provided a loan to cover the remainder of the cost. Harvest has since forgiven the loan.
Waukeshaw, which has done similar revitalization projects throughout Virginia, bought the building from the city in 2013 for $1.
The city received a $600,000 grant from the state Industrial Revitalization Fund for Waukeshaw to use toward the project. Virginia Community Capital, which helps finance community development efforts, is financing the rest, Waukeshaw President Dave McCormack has said.
McCormack could not be reached for comment Thursday. He previously has said that Waukeshaw aims to continue owning the building after revitalization is finished, but it will hire a local manager to lease spaces inside.
Apartment floor plans are on the website, but they will be updated to reflect changes recently made, McCulloch said to her understanding. An example, she mentioned, is that due to an electrical issue, apartments will not have clothes washers and dryers — residents will share a laundry room instead.
Amenities listed on the website include modern appliances and countertops, an elevator and wifi (wireless Internet) access. Rents will include water/sewer service and garbage collection, but “in special circumstances” Internet, cable television and electricity can be included in the package, the website says. It does not detail those circumstances.
McCormack has said that Waukeshaw expects to lease spaces for “market rates” — perhaps $700 a month for a one-bedroom apartment.
McCulloch said she thinks such a rent will be “competitive ... when potential tenants weigh the amenities and location” in the central business district.
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