By Matt de Simone
The Economic Development Authority (EDA) updated the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors on an ongoing project in Buchanan that could make a huge economic impact on the area.
Botetourt County Director of Economic Development McFadyen presented a timeline and budget regarding the “Factory Flats” (Groendyk) revitalization project in Buchanan, requesting the board to certify the property as “blighted.” The board approved the request.
The Roanoke-based Sycamore Development Company purchased the former Groendyk manufacturing buildings in Buchanan last October. The company’s preliminary plans for the Groendyk building are to redevelop the more prominent/main building into 22 market-rate apartments, with the secondary building leased out to a craft brewing operation.
At the beginning of this year, the town designated the property as a “revitalization area,” recognizing the blighted condition of the buildings.
In May, the town received a Virginia Brownfields Assessment Fund grant updating environmental due diligence for the property. A “brownfield” is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
The developers requested the county’s assistance with financing improvements in July. Two weeks ago, the Botetourt EDA submitted an Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) proposal to fund the redevelopment of the commercial portion of the project.
During the presentation, McFadyen explained the IRF in detail, stating that the Commonwealth would award the county with the grant. The EDA would then make a loan to the developers. Localities may apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants to redevelop former industrial properties. Localities may provide loans amortized over 20 years for privately owned buildings at 2.5 percent.
Loan payments must be applied to similar projects and then used as an economic development revolving loan program for various needs after the second loan cycle.
“Once those loan funds cycle twice for this project and a similar manufacturing redevelopment project somewhere in the county, then those dollars can be applied as a revolving loan fund for any economic development purpose in the county,” McFadyen explained.
The Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) secures its grant to localities by requiring a deed covenant that the building shall only be used for commercial purposes. No less than 30 percent of a funding request must be applied to redevelopment for commercial purposes.
McFadyen made it clear that to make the IRF application deadline (August 19), the EDA didn’t want to give the state any reason to say the application was incomplete. The EDA approved the application before submission.
The grant request to the DHCD is to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the developers. No county dollars are budgeted for the $926,553 project—all from private and state dollars proposed to be applied.
According to Board of Supervisors Buchanan representative Amy White, she thinks that the preliminary designs for the project will be completed by the end of the year. Currently, developers are awaiting the Department of Historical Resources to certify their designs for the rehabilitation of the buildings. White and the board thanked the EDA for their “Herculean effort” on the project.