By Debbie Adams
Construction is underway at Vinyard Station – the former Vinton Motors location at the corner of Pollard Street and Washington Avenue in downtown Vinton. Developer Dale Wilkinson says their goal is a summer 2020 opening. “By July 1, we should be a good ways there.”
Wilkinson was one of the team who renovated the historic Roland E. Cook School into the Roland E. Cook Lofts. He also owns the building housing the Vinton Post Office and River Park Shopping Center and has redevelopment projects in Roanoke as well.
Demolition is now complete at Vinyard Station.
“We have gutted the building and are now putting it back— power, water, sewer, and HVAC,” said Wilkinson. They will soon begin framing up walls. A brand-new white roof membrane is in the process of being installed. Wilkinson has decided that the beautiful bowstring trusses in the ceiling will be preserved, not replaced.
Passers-by may notice bricks stacked in the parking lot. Those are for the exterior of the building. Both gray and red brick will be used in separate sections of the building to “break up the large space,” giving the impression of two smaller buildings, and “to fit in with the rest of the downtown area.” The Pollard Street side of the structure will feature a glass wall, allowing a view of the exposed beams.
The project will actually be providing more street frontage in downtown Vinton with the creation of the Virginia Boardwalk in the alleyway between the former Vinton Motors Building and the old Cundiff Drug Store.
Vinton Economic Development Director Pete Peters says the space was used as owner Billy Vinyard’s office at one time, but the roof has been taken down and the old store front will be removed “to allow folks to pass through the rear lot to Pollard.”
The town is also planning a walkway from the Vinton Motors building connecting to Lee Avenue. The Vinyard Station parking lot will be repaved, with curbs, lighting and sidewalks installed.
Jack Winston, who owns the Jersey Lily’s in Salem and Jersey Lily’s Roadhouse Grill on Orange Avenue, will be putting a 5,000-square-foot restaurant, Joe Goodpies, in place inside the repair shop section of the building, taking up about one-third of the interior space.
The restaurant will have a large 10,000-pound brick oven and will be an upscale restaurant featuring pizza, fresh burgers, chicken, and more.
Wilkinson is in active discussions with a professional group who plans to utilize much of the remaining space, and also with potential boutique owners.
Wilkinson says Peters first approached him with the vision of moving Vinton forward with the gateway project in the former Vinton Motors building.
Members of Vinton Town Council adopted two resolutions on November 19, 2019, to finalize plans for the redevelopment of the facility into a mixed-use commercial and retail development.
Council adopted a resolution authorizing Town Manager Barry Thompson to execute a Performance Agreement with Vinyard Station LLC and the Roanoke County Economic Development Authority (EDA) for the purpose of investing in public infrastructure and incentivizing the redevelopment of the property.
They also adopted a resolution authorizing Thompson to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the town and Roanoke County for financial support from the county for the Vinyard Station Redevelopment Project.
The Performance Agreement is valued at up to $750,000 over a 10-year period. In addition to building improvements, a primary function of the Performance Incentive is to establish and partially fund the addition of centralized parking infrastructure for the downtown business district—supporting both Vinyard Station and other existing businesses.
Under the agreement the town appropriates to the EDA an initial cash payment of $250,000 towards the purchase of eight vacant parcels for the purpose of establishing parking and pedestrian access to the site. The town also agreed to an additional payment of $50,000 annually for a period of 10 years for the balance of the Incentive Grant.
The performance agreement contains protections that will relieve the town from the funding commitment if the project does not materialize, does not meet investment goals, or is sold before the end of the agreement.
In the MOU, the county agreed to offset costs to the town by reimbursing the town for a portion of the Incentive Grant in the amount of $200,000 to be paid in annual installments of $40,000 over a five-year period, based on the net revenue the county expects to generate as a result of the redevelopment project.
The town requested financial assistance from the county in September 2019. The Board of Supervisors approved the MOU unanimously at their November 6 meeting. The MOU takes effect on January 1, 2021.
Vinyard Station will generate new and increased revenue for the town through collection of prepared food and beverage, sales, personal property, business license, and real estate taxes.
It will generate revenue for Roanoke County through sales, personal property, and real estate taxes. In total the project is expected to generate over $130,000 annually in combined increased tax revenues for the town and county. This figure is based on just the one secured restaurant tenant.
Total private investment for the purchase and renovation of Vinyard Station is estimated at $2.7 million, creating nearly 12,000 square feet of move-in-ready leasable space. It will serve as a cornerstone of the downtown area and preserve an iconic landmark.