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The Importance of Public-Private Partnerships in Revitalizing the River District

DANVILLE – “These last four years have been financially challenging for many of us across this region and much of the country in general. The lending markets are extremely difficult to navigate right now for real estate development efforts and small businesses in general. To get the River District off the ground and on firm footing for future success, it is going to take a coordinated effort/ partnership between the City of Danville, the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), and the private sector to purchase buildings, renovate them, and get them back to a useful existence,” stated Patrick Reilly of Rehab Development located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Rehab Development and their D.C. based partners Level2 Development have partnered to form Ferrell Historic Lofts, LLC and are currently redeveloping the Ferrell Building on Main Street into a mixed-use project with two street level commercial spaces and 13 market rate apartments throughout the rest of the building. The building will be ready for occupancy in January of 2012. “The City partnered with Ferrell Historic Lofts, LLC on this project by providing the company with a Downtown Enhancement Grant and a local incentive grant totaling $110,000 for building up fits and a $45,833 grant to assist with the purchase of a parking lot. Both grants were needed in order to make the project work and close the financing gap,” stated Anne Moore-Sparks, Project Manager for the Danville Office of Economic Development.

“There is very often a financial gap that needs to be filled, even if a property can be acquired for next to nothing, in order to actually be able to get a redevelopment effort underway. In this economic climate there is literally no margin for error when taking a project to the bank for funding. Without the cooperation and the grant funding of the City and the IDA, my firm would literally be able to do nothing right now in Danville,” stated Patrick Reilly.

“We have found in the River District that many of the buildings are owned by individuals and entities that have an unrealistic expectation as to the actual current worth of their property. In my opinion, many of these buildings have no value in their current state of dilapidation/disrepair, or actually a negative value when it comes to running a development pro-forma. That is why my firm is interested in the buildings that are owned by the IDA. They understand the importance of taking control of buildings that are being left to rot and getting them into the hands of parties who can execute a project from start to finish,” stated Patrick Reilly.

“To date, the IDA has purchased Old Belt One, the former Dimon Headquarters, River City General Store, Atrium Building, Downtowner, Durham Hosiery, 104 Colquhoun, 442 Main Street (Love Wig), and 415 Main Street. Our goal in any building purchase is to renovate the building and get it back into private sector hands and on the tax rolls. Lifebatt and Noblis are located in Old Belt One and pay taxes on the building. Averett University’s Graduate and Nursing Programs and the Danville Regional Foundation are located in the former Dimon Headquarters. The Gourmet Frog is located on the first floor of the Atrium Building,” stated Moore-Sparks.

“We are in the process of renovating the interior of the former River City General Store. Once the renovation has been completed, it is our intention to put the building on the market and sell it specifically to an end user, who will create jobs and provide a long term business for the River District,” stated Moore-Sparks.

Keep posted on a weekly basis as we provide further updates on the progress of the River District revitalization effort.