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Grant will help revitalize derelict John Randolph Hotel

South Boston’s Industrial Development Authority has been awarded a $100,000 Industrial Revitalization Fund grant for the redevelopment of John Randolph Hotel.

South Boston officials learned of the news Monday afternoon when the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development announced the South Boston Industrial Development Authority was one of three projects awarded a total of $900,000 in Industrial Revitalization Fund grants.

A total of 16 grant applications, totaling nearly $2.7 million, were received. 


The fund provides grants for construction projects aligned with local and regional economic development strategies, primarily in distressed communities.


 “In this program’s first year, we see the beginnings of several derelict structures being brought back to life,” said Bill Shelton, director of Department of Housing and Community Development. “The funds will not only restore vacant, unused buildings, but it will spur economic revitalization, bringing jobs and more private investment to communities that need it.” 


Tamyra Vest, executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston, said, “Destination Downtown South Boston received a $25,000 grant in February 2012 for a feasibility study for development of the John Randolph Hotel as a boutique hotel. The feasibility study, completed July 31, showed a landmark ready for renovation and possible expansion and presented the development, investment and marketing for making the property a business and community success.”   


“We are excited to be working with a developer that is interested in pursuing the project,” Vest added. 


Initial discussions with the developer indicated the importance of Destination Downtown South Boston and the town to get control of the property, she said. 


The South Boston Industrial Development Authority applied for an Industrial Revitalization Fund grant of $100,000 to be able to work with the developer to pursue development of the hotel in line with the feasibility study. 


After learning of the grant award Monday afternoon, South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel said, “We are really grateful that DHCD saw fit to support our efforts to save the John Randolph Hotel and develop it in a way that will preserve it through Historic District Tax Credits and complement the whole downtown revitalization effort.” 


“Memories are made at these types of hotels and travelers are looking to experience things that are both off the beaten path and offer something they can’t find anywhere else,” according to Vest. 


“More and more travelers are looking outside of the flagged hotel brands for accommodations, and these hotels don’t have to offer five star accommodations. They need to be warm, unique and different, and offer the traveler a ‘welcome mat experience’ of local hospitality and serve as a gateway to other attractions and destinations in the area. This grant provides us the first baby step in making this dream a reality,” Vest added.


Projects were reviewed and evaluated competitively, with an emphasis on those with a high level of blight, identification of impediments to economic development effort, alignment with regional or local strategies, availability of matching resources, level of community distress where the property is located and an identified and feasible end use. 


The maximum award was $500,000.


The funds are intended to leverage local and private resources to achieve market-driven redevelopment of these derelict structures, creating a catalyst for long-term employment opportunities and on-going physical and economic revitalization, Shelton said.


At the end of a meeting last April to discuss the acquisition of real estate for a public purpose, the South Boston Industrial Development Authority authorized Town Manager Daniel to apply for the revitalization grant to assist in rehabilitation of a vacant property in the town.