Plans for Old Cassco Ice Plant in Downtown Waynesboro - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Plans for Old Cassco Ice Plant in Downtown Waynesboro

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One of Waynesboro's tallest buildings has been empty for two decades and is slowly decaying, but new hope is growing for the old Cassco Ice Plant.  City planners say it could be a high profile catalyst for downtown revitalization.

A developer from Albemarle County owns the 80-year-old blighted building, along Race Avenue in downtown Waynesboro.  Their multimillion-dollar vision calls for new apartments and retail space.

It looms seven stories over downtown Waynesboro and Constitution Park.  Vacant for the past 20 years, the missing bricks, water damage and opportunistic trees show its disrepair.  But this former ice plant and apple storage tower has a much brighter future than demolition.

"This particular building is highly visible," said Waynesboro city planner Michael Barnes.  "If we can convert it into a productive building in the downtown, it could really help lead the revitalization the next several years."

That's why Waynesboro supports the current owner in his effort to renovate and repurpose the structure.  The owner's vision includes an apartment building with 25 to 30 units targeting young professionals and retirees, some 17,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space, and perhaps a top-floor restaurant.

"With the right motivation and ideas behind it, I think it could be fostered into a great thing to build this downtown core of living and business and community," said Waynesboro Tourism Director Katie McElroy.

Barnes said, "Residential is really important in our downtown because it actually brings people who can walk in the streets and shop in the stores, and help drive and support businesses in the downtown."

The project will compete for several hundred thousand dollars in grants or loans, from the governor's Industrial Revitalization Fund.  The incentive program aims to turn blighted buildings like this one into assets for their city's downtown.

Waynesboro hopes to see work on the former ice plant begin as soon as a year-and-a-half from now.  A study last year showed that the building is structurally sound, and that there's a demand for more housing downtown.

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