Every once in a while, a remarkable story surfaces that represents what can be accomplished when true partnering takes place along with solid efforts. Such a story unfolded for the Stewart Perry Company when we were introduced to the mountain town of Grundy, VA.
Since 1929, Grundy had been plagued by flooding from the Levisa Fork River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was called in to assess the situation, and their recommendation was a levee system. With precious little space left in this valley, the Grundy Industrial Development Authority (IDA) realized that they would have to relocate businesses across the river as part of the redevelopment. To do this, they would need to cut a notch from the steep rocky wall abutting the Levisa Fork. The Corps engineered the earth moving and delivered on their promise of a levee, readying the site for roadwork.
To complete its part of the redevelopment, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) built a new four-lane highway atop the levee system, connecting the town and bringing even more potential for business and commerce to Grundy. The town was expanded to include opportunities for new retail, offices, lodging and restaurants. Careful planning and the consequent alternative route for the highway meant thousands of acres of forest remain unharmed.
All of the components that went into this project were possible through a close relationship between the Town of Grundy, the Corps, VDOT, the IDA, and Commonwealth Properties of Ashville. Their efforts, combined with the guidance of United States Congressman, Rick Boucher, business leaders in the town of Grundy, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and People Inc have accomplished the goal and gotten the site ready for mixed-use construction, something the citizens of Grundy and its surrounding communities had been patiently awaiting for the better part of a decade.
When Grundy Plaza construction began in August 2009, their patience was rewarded. This redevelopment is being built across the Levisa Fork River from the traditional commercial business district and will offer a wide array of retail shops and commercial space. Chief among the tenants is a mercantile store perched atop a two-story parking structure. Vertical development will better utilize the space available and reduce the development’s impact on the surrounding environment, all while offering amazing river views. Customers will be able to access the shops via service escalators, elevators, and a cart elevator providing easy entry to all levels of the structure.
A focus on building this town center in a careful, smart, and conscientious manner was of the utmost importance from the very beginning. Advancements to the site not only include beautification and safety precautions for natural disasters, but answer the call for more environmentally responsible buildings in America by designing in an eco-friendly manner. Grundy Plaza will join the ranks of other ground-breaking developments by being a L.E.E.D (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified structure.
Even before the first concrete was poured, this project had already begun to have an economic ripple effect on the area. Once complete, the redevelopment is expected to produce and retain around 1,000 direct and 1,000 indirect jobs. When doors open for business, Buchanan County citizens will no longer have to drive long distances to purchase the goods and services that they require. This means business and commerce can stay in the local area, allowing the entire town to reap the center’s benefits.
Stewart Perry is proud to have a hand in a project of this magnitude, especially one that will help a community. Projects like these remind us that economic improvement, safety of citizens, protection from natural disaster property damage and environmental sustainability are possible no matter what the size or complexities involved. When the doors open for the first time, just before the 2010 holiday season, Stewart Perry will be proud to stand alongside local customers, designers, engineers and employees of the new Grundy Plaza.