Construction on the upstairs portion of the Business Development Center (BDC) is set to go out to bid by late spring.
Sean Adkins, the county’s economic development director, said the bid will go out after the asbestos is removed from the first-floor section of the building.
“The first phase is the first floor and the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system for the whole building. I would suspect it would take a year” to complete, he said, adding it could take longer because of an added wait time of 6-10 months for the HVAC portion of the project.
AECOM, a construction engineering company, recently finished the concept and design of the BDC.
“It’s going to be a lot of flexible working space. There’s going to be tiers of membership,” Adkins said, adding “it’s not a traditional office space with brick and mortar.”
The center will have a few smaller, private offices with lockable doors for top-tier members, “but anybody can use this as their business address. They can come in, they can have meetings, there’s going to be at least three conference tables,” he said.
Adkins said meeting spaces will also be available for reservation by local organizations. A small café area will be situated in the back area of that floor, he said. The area will include “nice vending machines, a place where they can have lunch and rest a little bit. A breakroom without four walls.”
A childcare center will be housed in the basement.
“There’s not much else we need more in the county than childcare,” Adkins said.
The original plan was to use the childcare center to provide care to between 80 and 90 children. However, due to issues with finding a suitable outside grassy area to serve as the required outside space, the number has been reduced to 40-45 children.
Adkins said the grassy area behind and around the building will be used as the required outdoor space – for now.
“We’re still hoping to figure something else out,” he said.
The starting construction date for the childcare center depends on supply chain issues and any issues that arise during the first phase, he said.
Each floor is about 7,400 square feet, for a combined total of 15,000 square feet.
Adkins said $2.6 million has been raised for the project thus far, including grants from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD), and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
He hopes to pursue a New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) to pay for the remainder of the project costs.
Adkins said the center is one of his favorite economic development projects.
“It also kind of really sums up what economic development is because it takes time. Everybody kind of looks at it like, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it,’ or ‘when’s it going to happen,’ but every project takes time,” he said.
“It’s a whole lot of working out the details – for years in many cases,” Adkins said. “Then you get to this point and it’s pretty awesome after you finish it.”