STAUNTON — Staunton Crossing has received more funding, which will help pave the way to achieving Tier Four site status.
Right now the development is a Tier Two site.
Money from a Virginia Business Ready Sites Program grant could help move the development to that higher status. Staunton received $850,780 in that grant, which is through the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. The grant will aid in due diligence studies and preliminary final site engineering and design to help advance Staunton Crossing to the goal of a Tier Four site. The city in-kind match for the grant totaled $280,757.
What will this grant do?
The grant will allow for the following:
land title survey
environmental site assessment
archaeological or cultural resource study
wetlands delineation and determination
traffic impact study
It will also allow for the design of the following: water system; water storage tank; wastewater collection system; wastewater pump station.
What other funding and grants has Staunton Crossing received?
The project has also received nearly $9 million from the Virginia Department of Transportation and over $10 million from the state supporting the project over the years.
Tier 4 would make the development infrastructure ready. That would mean adding a new water system — costing nearly $1 million. Tier 2 means the site is controlled and marketed for development. City staff has maintained that Staunton Crossing needs to be Tier 4 in order to be a competitive site, a Virginia Economic Development Partnership designation.
The city is also pushing for Staunton Crossing to become a Tier 5 site, which will cost up to $10 million. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership has requested the Virginia General Assembly allocate $150 million to "help develop a pool of potential sites across the Commonwealth that are well prepared and positioned for selection and development by prospective economic development projects," city documents said.
New vision and what's here
In 2019, it was announced there was a new vision for Staunton Crossing incorporating data centers, flex office space, advanced manufacturing and retail into the development, creating a more campus-style economic development.
The new plan would bring in 1.9 million square feet of economic development, more than 3,000 new jobs and $4 million of annual tax revenue. The city has been working with the Timmons Group in establishing a new plan for the 300 acres of land near Interstate 81.
Instead, the past few years have brought a new Chipotle, a 7-Eleven gas station and plans for a Jersey Mike's, Wendy's and Waffle House. The Wendy's will be located in a separate building by Chipotle (the open space off the side of the drive-thru portion of Chipotle) and the Waffle House will be located near the 7-Eleven gas station.
Staunton Economic Development Authority met Thursday and discussed possibly holding an evening meeting open to the public to allow for citizens to get a whole rundown of what is happening with the project. Nothing was decided on when that would be, but possibly it could happen in the next two months.
Staunton Crossing demolition
Demolition of the old Western State Hospital is behind, Staunton City Community and Economic Development Director Billy Vaughn said. Fourteen of the 19 buildings have been demolished.
"Our concern is that we need those buildings down," Vaughn said during a Jan. 27 Staunton Economic Development meeting.
Those meetings need to be torn down in order for Staunton to proceed with tasks that go with grant funding from the state, Vaughn said. In 2019, the city received a $431,200 grant to fund Staunton Crossing through the Virginia Brownfields Restoration and Economic Redevelopment Fund. The grant allowed the city to start the removal and disposal of hazardous materials at the former Western State Hospital.
"We'd like to see those buildings down as soon as possible," he said.
Marketing for development
The city has also brought on a team to help move the marketing strategy of Staunton Crossing. The team is made up of the Timmons Group, which has been working with the city on Staunton Crossing for the past decade, and Hunton-Andrews-Kurth, based out of Richmond.
The plan will address the following:
identify measurable objectives for short, mid and long-term success
overview of the local, state, regional and national market
identify target market segments/clusters for the City of Staunton to pursue
competitor analysis and competitive advantages
communications strategy, including outreach, in-reach and strategic opportunities
tactical plan, including developing brand, positioning Staunton Crossing and selling Staunton Crossing
Priorities, timeline and estimated costs
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New road still coming
The development of a new road, which would connect Richmond Avenue to Valley Center Drive, is delayed, Vaughn said.
The $8.7 million VDOT grant funds the construction of a 4,000 linear foot road extension. It will include a park and ride with nearly 100 parking spaces, car charging stations and a bus shelter.
The problem now is the project is about $2 million over budget — so VDOT is trying to find ways to cut costs. One of those is not purchasing the actual charging stations for the car charging portion of the project; the infrastructure will be there, like wiring, but the actual charging stations will not.
Some other ways of cutting cuts include looking at stormwater management, road shoulders, raised medians, vertical alignment and road width.
Staunton Crossing background
Staunton's Economic Development Association took the title of the property where Staunton Crossing is now from the state in 2011. Back then, construction was set to start in the Spring of 2012. But it wasn't until 2015 when Staunton sold 25 acres along U.S. 250 to Staunton Crossing Partners LLC and construction didn't happen immediately.
The nearly 300-acre project has been in the works since 2009, when the city spent $15 million in a land-swap deal with Western State Hospital. The city has so far spent over $16 million on the project, including the initial $15 million.
Construction of the two hotels — Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites and a Tru Hotel by Hilton — slated for that portion of the property began in 2017.
The Timmons Group facilitated the sale of the first 25 acres to have two hotels built on it — now occupied by the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, which opened in mid-October 2018, and Tru by Hilton, which opened in November 2018.
Officials have boasted about the potential for the site, but it's been long-stymied by a lengthy to-do list.
Laura Peters is the trending topics reporter at The News Leader. Have a news tip on local trends or businesses? Or a good feature? You can reach reporter Laura Peters (she/her) at email@example.com. Follow her @peterslaura. Subscribe to The News Leader at newsleader.com.
This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Staunton Crossing receives another grant. Here's what's going on with the project.