The Botetourt County Economic Development Authority (EDA) has hired HVS’s Chicago office to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of having a 200-room, 40,000-square-foot hotel/conference center at Exit 150.
The Board of Supervisors approved $7,125 to pay the 25 percent retainer fee for the feasibility study when it met last week at Greenfield Education and Training Center.
The supervisors also approved new appropriations from the carryover funds for the FY18 budget that will allow the Sheriff’s Department to purchase Mobile Data Terminals, the Department of Fire & EMS to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus and to purchase the Gala boat lading property.
Making the Exit 150 and Gateway Crossing area at the interstate interchange a “destination” has been discussed a number of times as the supervisors and county administration have worked through development prospects for the area.
The county’s Gateway market study completed in 2015 doesn’t specifically address the potential for a hotel/conference center, but it does project the area has potential for added upper/mid-scale motel rooms. Conceptual plans for the area also show the possibility of a hotel/conference center within the Gateway Crossing/Cloverdale Road/US 11 development area.
According to Ken McFadyen, the county’s Director of Economic Development, in addition to determining whether the county has the market for such a project, the consultants also are evaluating a handful of potential sites at Gateway Crossing for a hotel/conference center. McFadyen said each property owner in the evaluation area is aware and involved in that aspect of the project.
McFadyen said in an email the feasibility study will be a public document. The property assessment component should be exempted from public review, though, because in part it would affect individual property values if made public.
He expects to have a study draft to review in December and finalize in January.
The Gateway market study also suggested the Exit 150 area has potential for being a destination retail area because of its location on I-81 with three US highways converging at or near the interchange.
The supervisors solidified another public access point to the Upper James River Water Trail by allocating $27,000 to purchase the Gala boat landing on US 220 where Mill Creek goes into the James River just north of Eagle Rock. The appropriation includes the cost of the property ($24,000) and closing costs.
The county has been leasing the property for the past couple of years to provide an access point on the river north of Eagle Rock. It’s one of nine public access points on the river in Botetourt.
The supervisors appropriated $475,479 to purchase Mobile Data Terminals (MDT) for the Sheriff’s Department.
Finance Manager Tony Zerrilla told the supervisors the Sheriff’s Department under spent in the FY18 budget and has accumulated ticket fees to purchase the MDTs. He said the MTDs are safer to use.
He said the Department of Fire & EMS also under spent and saved money in FY18 in anticipation of purchasing new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that will not be supported by using grant funds. The supervisors appropriated $325,000 in carryover funds from FY18 to purchase the gear.
The supervisors’ budget committee considered the requests before the end of the FY18 fiscal year and recommended taking them up as new appropriations rather than as rollover funds.