By DAN SMITH
Gov. Tim Kaine is leaving office with something of a development bang for downtown Roanoke. The Patrick Henry Hotel project, as well as rehabilitations of the Boxley Building and Billy's Ritz restaurant have been approved for nearly $20 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds (RZFB), which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package. The available money must be borrowed, but is available at significantly reduced rates.
The projects are all in downtown Roanoke's heart and are all part of what has been designated a "recovery zone". The funds are "tax-exempt, non-AMT private activity bonds issued as conduit bonds for a private company," according to literature. Bonds must be used in areas that "have significant poverty, unemployment, general distress or home foreclosures; be any area for which a designation as an empowerment zone or renewal community is in effect; or be an area designated by the issuer as economically distressed by reason of the closure or realignment of a military installation."
Roanoke Assistant City Manager Brian Townsend says he can't verify all the money that has been made available (the city has asked for funds), but says the bonds for the three private projects are forthcoming from the state from the ARRA funds.
Ed Walker's Patrick Henry Hotel project--which should result in 100 rental units ultimately--is the highest profile of the three properties. Walker bought the property recently for $1.3 million and plans to put another $14 million into it. Of the total $18.3 million from RZFB, the PH gets $9.6 million.
Townsend says the Boxley Building and Billy's Ritz will get a total of more than $8 million between them ($5.8 million for Boxley, $3 million for Billy's). The Boxley Building is reportedly going to get upstairs living space and lower level retail and professional spaces.