News Item Details

Exit 150 Improvements in Botetourt Present Opportunities, Consultant Report Says

11/25/2015

Fincastle, VA - Consultants hired to determine the economic opportunities available in the Exit 150 area of Botetourt County reported today that the area has the potential to support significant new retail, hotel, and   housing development. RKG Associates told members of the County’s Board of Supervisors that there is underserved retail demand from households from Exit 150 north to Covington and Lexington and from travelers along Interstate 81. They also reported that there is opportunity to attract upper midscale hotels and to develop apartments and townhouses that could appeal to and attract younger residents.

Specifically, the consultants estimate that the area where Interstate 81 and US Routes 220 and 11 converge has the potential for between 215,000 and 328,000 square feet of new retail development, ranging from restaurants to auto parts and sporting goods stores to a specialty fashion center or outlet mall. They estimate that 80 to 150 additional hotel rooms could be supported between one or two additional hotels. Also, given the current lack of rental housing options in the County and the area’s easy access to Roanoke, RKG reported between 25 and 50 new apartment and townhouse units could be supported annually.

The consultants cautioned that achieving the potential of Gateway Center — the name given the area by County officials — assumes that “suitable sites can be provided in the future to accommodate these uses.” Additional transportation improvements, streetscape enhancements, and zoning changes will be required to provide access to currently inaccessible parcels on the west side of Exit 150 and to make the area more attractive to potential businesses, residents, and developers. County officials were told that a “concerted strategy” would be required to work with property owners and developers.

Lead Consultant Russ Archambault told supervisors that “an active and leading role by the County will be      critical.” He also stated that development will take years and will require the participation and cooperation of not only property owners and developers but also federal and state agencies, including the National Park Service, Federal Highway Administration, and Virginia Department of Transportation.

Following RKG’s presentation, Board of Supervisors Chairman Donald “Mac” Scothorn stated that the report “gives us a much better idea about what Botetourt County, in cooperation with a broad group of partners, can do to make Gateway Center the dynamic economic and lifestyle center we want.”

Amsterdam District Supervisor Todd Dodson, whose district, with Scothorn’s, includes the Exit 150 area, agreed. “We have a once in several generation opportunity here, but it’s not going to happen overnight. The Board has marked the Gateway Center as one of the hallmarks of our strategic vision, and we are committed to partner and to work to turn that vision into a reality,” he concluded.

County Administrator Kathleen D. Guzi suggested nine “action steps” the Board could take to start work. One of those, reorganizing the County’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) into a broader Economic Development Authority to support efforts at Exit 150, was unanimously supported by members of the IDA in a separate meeting days earlier. The Board voted to schedule a public hearing on making that change at its December 17, 2015 meeting. The Board also endorsed, “in principle”, the other eight action steps and directed staff to develop more detailed plans for consideration at a future board of supervisors meeting.

RKG’s full report as well as the “action steps” endorsed by the board of supervisors can be found on the County’s website at http://www.botetourtva.gov/econdevelopment/index.php.

 

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For more information, contact

Cody Sexton, County Administrator's Office

(540) 928-2010