By Brandon Martin
Another housing project is in the works for the City of Martinsville.
The Martinsville Housing Authority has authorized the execution of a redevelopment agreement for the building where the Henricopolis School of Medicine was originally planned.
Historic Preservation Developers John Garland and Jim Cherney intend to convert the property at 62 Fayette Street into a mixed-use lot, with 26 apartments and 11 commercial spaces.
Garland said the first 25-feet of the building would be smaller commercial spaces for small businesses.
“It gives the most opportunity for small businesses because it keeps the rent lower,” Garland said. “We also build out the space, so they don’t have to get a loan to build out the space. It’ll be ready for them when they come in.”
There will also be apartments at the rear of the building and on two floors, according to Garland.
The redevelopment will also feature several “maker spaces,” which Garland said will be rented out for about $395 a month.
“It provides a space for someone that has a hobby, someone that has a small business or someone that just wants to do something that they can’t easily do out of their home. They can rent a maker space,” Garland said. “We’ve been successful in renting out those kinds of spaces in Roanoke. It takes a space that is normally pretty dead and inactive and makes it active and brings people into the building doing a number of different things.”
Garland said the apartments would have a rent range of $695-850 a month.
“We feel like they are affordable,” Garland said. “That’s one of the beauties of these loft apartments. They have a feel of being big because you’ve got really high ceilings, but they are still small spaces, so it keeps the rent down and affordable. It’s mainly catered towards singles and couples.”
City Manager Leon Towarnicki said the project fits in with the overarching goals of the city.
“As Uptown comes back, one of the things that people have been interested in is what can we do Uptown to get people moving back Uptown and give people an impetus to create more shops, restaurants and things of that nature,” he said.
Garland said this was one of the considerations made when assessing what to do with the property.
“Y’all were smart enough to do a study to determine what was needed for apartments and the study says there is a demand for apartments in Martinsville-Henry County,” Garland said.
According to Garland, he intends to include washers and dryers in each apartment unit.
Housing Authority members noted Garland’s intent to solicit community input for the development plans.
“You’re taking into consideration the street, the history of the street and you’re willing to talk to local citizens,” said Chad Martin, member of the housing authority. “I really appreciate that.”
Garland said he does so because he wants locals to take pride in the projects that he brings to the community.
To keep business local, Frith Construction has been tapped to help with the redevelopment. Garland, Cherney and Frith Construction also are partnering to redevelop the former John Redd Elementary School and the former Fieldale High School.
Towarnicki said that the city received the building for free, but due to legal requirements, the housing authority couldn’t convey the property over to the developers at no cost. Due to those requirements, the developers agreed to purchase the building for $10.
The housing authority unanimously agreed to authorize staff to execute the redevelopment agreement before recessing and reconvening as city council.
In other matters, council members:
*Conducted a public hearing regarding proposed updates to the Transportation Plan and Land Use Plan from the city’s Comprehensive Plan. City council will vote on the amendments at its next meeting on July 13.
*Appointed Stephanie Tucker to the Comprehensive Services Act Community Policy and Management Team as the primary private provider representative for a two-year term ending June 30, 2023.
*Appointed Jean Odachowski to the Comprehensive Services Act Community Policy and Management Team as the alternate private provider representative for a two-year term ending June 30, 2023.