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Destination Downtown reaps special honor

South Boston News
DHCD Deputy Director Lisa Atkinson presents Executive Director Tamyra Vest with a special award for Destination Downtown’s work to save the New Brick warehouse. From left: Tamyra Vest, Lisa Atkinson, and Patrick Reilly with Rehab Development, Inc. / March 31, 2014
Among organizations statewide recognized this month for their work to revitalize downtown commercial districts, Destination Downtown South Boston stands alone.

Destination Downtown and the Town of South Boston were presented with the 2014 Virginia Main Street Milestone Special Achievement Award at a March 19 banquet in Richmond held by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. South Boston earned the Special Achievement Award for its partnership with Rehab Development, Inc., a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based firm, to transform the old New Brick Tobacco Warehouse into 27 new, market-rate apartments in the Main Street District.

Destination Downtown South Boston also received a Milestone Award for 20,000 volunteer hours devoted to the cause of downtown revitalization.

At an awards ceremony held at Richmond’s historic Hippodrome Theater, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones hailed the work of some 90 downtown revitalization volunteers and professionals who attended from around the state.

“This year, you have been thinking outside of the box and using entrepreneurship as a keystone to successful downtown revitalization,” said Jones. “With entrepreneur development strategies like business boot camps and even an Ideaspace, you are bringing new ventures and amazing growth to your downtowns.”

Bill Shelton, director of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), added, “In the last five years, designated Main Street communities have sparked more than $217 million in private investment in their districts. As a result, last year, there was a net collective gain of 453 jobs across the 25 Main Street downtown districts.”

South Boston’s Main Street Program, Destination Downtown, works with downtown merchants to strengthen the viability of the district and keep business from leaving, while preserving structures important to South Boston’s historic character.

The resurrection of the New Brick warehouse — now the New Brick Historic Lofts — would not have been possible if not for the work of Destination Downtown and the Town, said Patrick Reilly, a principal at Rehab Development, at a ribbon cutting event for the apartment complex on March 20.

He singled out Destination Downtown’s Tamrya Vest and Town Manager Ted Daniel, who will soon be retiring. Lamenting Daniel’s pending departure, Reilly said, “I can honestly say he was a lynchpin in this project happening. Without him, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Destination Downtown works with the Town and local merchants to reverse the deterioration of downtown by undertaking activities to preserve its traditional role as a healthy, economically vital center of commerce and social activity, and to promote preservation, rehabilitation and reuse of the buildings in the central business district.

Its “responsibilities are to educate, build consensus, stimulate the downtown economy through action, focus activity on downtown and maximize volunteer participation,” according to a statement by the group. Destination Downtown’s “goal is to work to create an environment that encourages existing building and business owners, as well as attracting new businesses, to want to continue to invest in the Downtown Business District.”

In addition to South Boston, Virginia Main Street recognized the following communities for excellence: Abingdon, Altavista, Ashland, Berryville, Bristol, Culpeper, Farmville, Franklin, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Luray, Lynchburg, Marion, Martinsville, Saint Paul, Staunton, Warrenton and Winchester.

Currently, there are 25 designated Virginia Main Street communities: Abingdon, Altavista, Ashland, Bedford, Berryville, Blackstone, Bristol, Culpeper, Farmville, Franklin, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Hopewell, Luray, Lynchburg, Manassas, Marion, Martinsville, Orange, Saint Paul, South Boston, Staunton, Warrenton, Waynesboro and Winchester.

The Virginia Main Street program, managed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, provides assistance and training to help communities increase the economic vitality of their downtown commercial districts. Virginia Main Street uses the National Main Street model to help communities revitalize their downtowns by focusing on their unique heritage and attributes. The program helps communities implement a comprehensive revitalization strategy that creates economic growth and pride in downtowns.

For more information about the Virginia Main Street program, call (804) 371-7030 or visit For more information about South Boston’s Main Street Program, contact the Main Street Office at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 434-575-4209.

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How much tax money did this cost us? I also bet that these apts. will be run down in five years.


Who wouldn't want to live in a tobacco warehouse?


Would y'all rather have seen it demolished at taxpayer expense? that's where it was headed. At least now it will generate some tax revenue. A rehabbed building will surely generate more than a derelict one, or a vacant lot. That's why the Randolph project needs to accelerate before that building is too far gone.

Market rate rentals rarely get run down as they attract a higher quality class of people. We're not talking Section 8 rentals here- no need to maintain them, the guvmink will pay you market rate for your tenements. I suspect some of you have experience with those. wink


Why would it be demolished at taxpayer expense? Taxpayers wouldn't have to pay for that unless some idiot in the guvmink had used taxpayers money to buy a tobacco warehouse.

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