Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Vinton wants to help commercial property owners and prospective businesses connect

By Debbie Adams

VINTON–If you own commercial property in the Town of Vinton that is available for purchase or leasing, Assistant Town Manager Richard “Pete” Peters would like to hear from you.

Peters says he is getting frequent requests from businesses that want to come to Vinton and is having difficulty finding spaces for them since he is not always aware of what is available.

Currently there is no formal, or even informal, procedure for listing available properties in Vinton with the town offices. When a prospective business calls Peters to find out what space might be vacant, his option now is to search real estate listings to determine what is available that might suit the needs of the new or existing business.

Peters believes that the extensive development projects in Vinton in the past couple of years, including the construction of the new library, the downtown revitalization project, the  rezoning and re-developments of Roland E. Cook Elementary, the former William Byrd High School, and the coming Macado’s restaurant in the old library, in addition to the new entrepreneurs at the HIVE Business Incubation Center, and the start-up of Twin Creeks Brewery have drawn attention to Vinton and allowed people to see the town in a new light. He is getting calls on a weekly basis from businesses interested in locating in, or relocating to, Vinton.

He emphasizes that the town’s goal is not to supplant realtors but to facilitate the process of helping prospective businesses looking for a location in Vinton find a property owner with suitable space available.

Peters says there is a misconception based on years past that there are many vacant storefronts or properties in the downtown business area. At one time a handful of stores were leased by a variety of churches. That is no longer the case and there are only a few properties available in the downtown area for rent.

It was recently announced that what was Heritage Baptist Church on Pollard Street, owned by Vinton attorney Bruce Mayer, will be the new home of Star City Playhouse, relocating from Roanoke.

Owners Marlow and Karon Ferguson are signing a five-year lease on the 6500-square foot facility on the corner where they plan to produce community theater weekend events. Their move has generated some excitement in the local theater community. The company has a pool of about 45 actors but also will issue casting calls for each production.  They say they were fortunate to find the property which exactly fits their needs. Peters says four other tenants had shown an interest in that same property.

There are new businesses up and down Lee Avenue. Twin Creeks Brewery is consistently drawing visitors from throughout the valley to its newly opened craft brewery on Pollard Street. Owners Andy and Jason Bishop and Barry Robertson say that when they were looking for a location for their business, they were attracted to Vinton in part because of the town’s eagerness to have them here and incentives offered through a host of different programs.

The Conner Group, currently located on the upper end of Washington Avenue, is finalizing the purchase of properties on Lee Avenue downtown. Now with nine employees, Anthony Conner says they have outgrown their current space. The parking situation will also be simplified with a move downtown, in addition to providing more office space. They plan some renovations and hope to move in the spring.

Tim Greenway of Greenway Construction moved into his offices on Lee Avenue about two years ago.

“I build, sell, list, and invest in Vinton so I wouldn’t consider an office anywhere else,” said Greenway. “I have owned this building for about 15 years and so when I sold my building on Washington Avenue, 118 East Lee Ave was vacant and fits my needs perfectly.”

When he purchased the property, the Vinton Messenger was located in the building, followed by a consignment shop, a children’s party supply store, and a counseling center.

Even the corridors are filling up. Lake Drive has only one vacancy now that Dunkin’ Donut has opened. New developments at Park Side are in the works; however, the old Rite Aid/Family Dollar location on Hardy Road remains vacant.

At this point, Peters says most businesses interested in moving to Vinton want to lease a property with an eye to buying in the future if their venture is successful.

There are only a couple of properties at 1000 square feet or less. Peters especially wants to identify properties between 1000 and 3500 feet in area. He is hoping landlords will communicate with the town and let them know if they have properties for lease or for sale, or vacancies coming up.

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Peters encourages property owners to list their available properties with a realtor. His desire is just to help them market what is available and help make the contact with the property owner, the realtor, and the interested business.

The town and Roanoke County are working with realtors Poe and Cronk, on marketing the Vinton Business Center off of Hardy Road. The BBQ Grill is working with MKB Realtors—which is just fine with Peters. He would just like for the town to be part of the loop.

He foresees listing available properties on the Town of Vinton website as a point of contact. Currently he is spending a great deal of time and energy researching properties, gathering information, and talking with landlords when a business comes calling. A master list—routinely updated–would be much more efficient and readily accessible when a business shows an interest in a Vinton location. He would be able to advise those interested in operating a business in Vinton what property would best meet their needs.

Peters would like to attract more retail businesses so that residents would not have to drive into Roanoke for basic shopping; that would also help increase revenue for the town. New revenues can then be reinvested into providing upgraded infrastructure and maintaining other local services.

He would also like to attract niche businesses to capitalize on Vinton’s proximity to Smith Mountain Lake, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Explore Park, and local greenways and blueways and and “cater to the needs of those traveling to those recreational areas.”

“We want to capitalize on the primary commuter routes that pass through Vinton and capture that audience passing through,” he continues. “We want to alert property owners and potential tenants that Vinton wants new business and is open for business. We want to know what properties are currently available and to help property owners and new tenants find a fit.”

The message is also that Vinton is a great place to do business. The Vinton Subway restaurant, Vinton Bojangles’, Vinton McDonalds, and Hardy Road Kroger are the busiest in the region for those particular business chains.

Peters also wants to call attention to the many great venues in Vinton, including the Vinton War Memorial, Woodland Place, Braeloch/Boxtree, and others—and to the many impressive events the town and Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce sponsor throughout the year from ringing in the New Year at the War Memorial to the Senior Expo, the Dogwood and Wine Festivals, the Mingle at the Market concert series, Fall Festival, and the Christmas Parade, which potentially draw shoppers to the town.

His goal, and the town’s, is to match tenants and properties—and that requires knowledge of what is available. His number at the Municipal Building is 540-983-0607.

 

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