Revitalization projects help to boost economic initiatives with the elimination of blight, creating attractive aesthetics in these areas to entice new businesses, industries, and residents. The economic impact can be astounding with development of small business and entrepreneurial enterprise, said to be the backbone of our economy. The clustering of similar businesses tends to attract other related companies to locate in that particular area. The retail/commercial businesses bring shoppers, recreational activities attract visitors and tourists, and lofts/apartments attract residents to live in these areas – all boosting the local economy by bringing tax revenues and tourist dollars to an area. This environment, along with a solid industry base, constitutes the building blocks of a strong, diversified economy.
A number of revitalization projects are taking place in the Region. Many, with assistance of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) or CDBG Planning Grants through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, are underway and include:
The Northside Neighborhood Improvements project is a CDBG-funded initiative in Martinsville for 44 housing rehabilitations, curb and gutter work, infrastructure, and other improvements. This encompasses Dillard, Warren, and portions of Franklin streets near the former Tultex site in the City. In late 2014, the City was awarded a $943,904 CDBG through DHCD to implement the Northside Neighborhood project, currently in progress.
In Henry County, the Smith River Small Towns Collaborative was formed in conjunction with the Harvest Foundation. The group represents the small factory towns of Bassett, Fieldale, Stanleytown, and Koehler. As part of the revitalization initiative, Henry County and the stakeholders received a $700,000 CDBG grant in August 2015 to further advance the project. Efforts will include streetscape and façade improvements, cultural amenities, creation and enhancement of public spaces, wayfinding signage, and construction of a trail along the Smith River that connects each area.
The Meadows of Dan Project in Patrick County is in the planning grant stage, having received funds to jump start the planning process with assistance of a consultant, DHCD staff, and management team.
The Town of Boones Mill in Franklin County received a planning grant through the CDBG program to further an initiative for housing rehabilitation, public water service including fire hydrants, blight removal, and improved access for 27 properties along Terrace Road, Primrose Road, and Primrose Circle in that area of the County. This project is ongoing and ties in with other revitalization efforts in the Town which include restoration of an historic train depot and industrial building improvements to further spark economic development.
In 2011, the City of Danville initiated a comprehensive planning program which established the River District, representing the heart of downtown, and includes a portion of two historic districts – the Tobacco Warehouse Historic District and Downtown Danville Historic District. Having declared a war on blight, the River District Revitalization project is a combination of planned City improvements and an incentive package structured to stimulate re-use of historic buildings in the district, to create new businesses, and to promote other economic enhancements. As a result of these efforts, a number of high-tech companies, restaurants, shops, and other businesses have located in the River District. Public space enhancements located at the core of the River District include a new riverfront park, activity center, and gateway to the river. Other revitalization efforts include development of more than 400 residential units in the district, with more in the works. There were about 200 people living in the River District in 2010, but that number soared to approximately 2,000 as of 2015. Streetscape improvements and bicycle/pedestrian trail connectors are part of this initiative as well. This project is a collaborative effort of the City, the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the Danville Regional Foundation, VDOT, private investors, and other partners.