Staunton Applies for Revitalization Grant

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Staunton City Council hopes to revitalize this building, which has been ignored for 30 years. Staunton City Council hopes to revitalize this building, which has been ignored for 30 years.

Leaders in Staunton are coming up with new ways to revitalize the city and reel in new business.

The Economic Development Authority just applied for a $500,000 grant from the Virginia Industrial Revitalization Fund to give the city a fresh look. With the grant money, plus funding from historic tax credits and private investors, planners say there is a lot of potential to open up space to businesses, as well as add character to the city.

"It's in very distressed condition both inside and out, and without these funds it's very likely that we would have to knock the building down rather than save it and rehabilitate it," said Bill Hamilton, director of economic development for Staunton.

For 30 years, a building at Staunton Crossing has been ignored. But instead of seeing its water damage, overgrown moss and rust, Hamilton sees potential.

"This is a key building because it's so visible, because it's at the front of this 300-acre property that we're starting to redevelop, and to leave the building here in this condition would lower the value of the surrounding property," Hamilton said.

City Councilor Erik Curren says the space has already attracted interest from developers.

"The city would prefer to work with a developer who's willing to make the property a little different than you would find in other cities - not just a cookie-cutter project by a freeway, but something that would be distinctive to Staunton. And something that would also connect with downtown," Curren said.

Western State last used the building as an industrial therapy site for patients. This time, planners envision a mixed-used facility, open to office space or higher education. The central idea is to boost the local economy.

"It would bring jobs, it could bring interesting new businesses to town, it could generate tax revenues to help pay for schools and help pave roads. And also it could bring in traffic from the freeway that perhaps now is just driving right by Staunton," Curren said.

The city hears back about the grant this fall, and hopes to get the funding to completely renovate the building within the next several years.