Waynesboro, VA – With support from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and an Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) Planning Grant, the Waynesboro Economic Development Authority (EDA), contracted with Creative Economic Development Consulting (Creative EDC) to research and prepare a downtown market and real estate redevelopment study. Although the pandemic caused a slight stall, in the last decade, the downtown area has experienced a renewed energy, reduced vacancy, and modest growth. This study will assist the city and downtown property owners in developing a marketing campaign to attract new business to enhance continued growth while developing a reuse plan for five identified derelict buildings. Five properties along a three-block section of West Main Street were identified for the study (322, 411, 540, 600, and 620).
There are a number of public and private transformation projects moving into development and according to Crystal Morphis, CEO of Creative EDC “Now is an ideal time to spark redevelopment in downtown.” The Waynesboro campus of the Virginia Museum of Natural History is expected to open in 2025. The approximate 27,000 SF natural science interpretation facility expects to attract 65,000 visitors. Adjacent to the new museum, the current redesign of Constitution Park will emerge as the South River Preserve (SRP), a signature 26-acre park along the banks of the South River. In addition to this park, the former landfill, Sunset Park, will become a city park with event space and 4.5 miles of biking and hiking trails.
The study recommends a mix of uses for the five properties ranging from retail, restaurant, bed and breakfast, and office. The Waynesboro economy is leaking retail sales to neighboring locations that could be kept local with more retail and dining options while providing additional opportunities for the thousands of new visitors to downtown. The recommendation for more lodging is to take advantage of those new travelers, as well as people visiting the Wayne Theatre and other area attractions. The office property opportunity will bring more people to work in downtown, creating more foot traffic for businesses.
Creative EDC made recommendations for additional city planning and public investments to support redevelopment. Examples include applying for grants for building renovations, expanding the city’s revolving loan fund, studying the need for cowork space in downtown, and implementing the Gateway Redevelopment Plan’s recommendation for a regional visitor center.
The city council will receive the consulting study recommendations at tonight’s August 8, 2022 meeting. The full report can be downloaded from the document center at WaynesboroBusiness.com.