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Halifax supervisors tee up school borrowing of $135 million, employee pay raises

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South Boston given spring 2022 deadline for Randolph Hotel grant / September 27, 2021
The Virginia Tobacco Commission agreed this week to extend a $600,000 grant award for the redevelopment of the John Randolph Hotel in South Boston, but gave the Town a spring deadline to identify a private sector partner to carry the project forward.

The grant award for The Randolph dates back to 2017. Acting on a staff recommendation, the commission agreed Wednesday to a sixth-year extension, on the condition that South Boston secures a developer/operator agreement by March 31.

The hotel property is owned by the South Boston Industrial Development Authority, which had found a developer — the company that operates The Craddock, a boutique hotel in downtown Lynchburg — only to see that partnership fall through. The Town hopes to reopen the John Randolph as a 27-room boutique hotel with a restaurant, rooftop bar and gift shop.

Blair Construction has provided an $8 million cost estimate for renovating and readapting the Main Street motor lodge as a boutique inn. In addition to the $600,000 grant from the tobacco commission, the Town has secured more than $2 million in historic tax credits, a grant from the state’s industrial revitalization fund and loan commitments to provide financing for the project.

Town Manager Tom Raab was unavailable for comment on the grant extension and the status of the Randolph Hotel project.

The Town commissioned a feasibility study in 2012, updated in 2017, which suggested the Randolph could serve as a tourist hub of Halifax County, complementing assets such as local raceways and visitor attractions and employers such as ABB and Microsoft. But the withdrawal of the developer has set the project back after Town officials expressed that the shuttered inn might reopen sometime in 2020.

The new timeline for completion, according to tobacco commission staff, is September 2023, which will require a two-year extension of the tobacco grant.

There remains a balance of $524,247 on the commission’s original grant award of $600,000.

Members of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, as the tobacco commission is formally known, gathered Wednesday at Peaks of Otter Lodge in Bedford. In addition to carrying over the Randolph Hotel grant, commissioners approved 18 funding requests totaling $6.5 million in grants and loans.

The commission also approved $3 million for its Talent Attraction Program to recruit and retain highly-skilled and educated individuals in Southside and Southwest Virginia, and $2.6 million in Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund (TROF) grants and loans to attract large projects to the region.

Among the grant awards approved Wednesday was $152,704 for the Center of Nursing Excellence at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston. The nursing center’s “Equipment and Technology Refresh” initiative will update equipment and technology to ensure that high-quality clinical skills training remains accessible for health profession students and workers in the region. The money also will help the SVHEC expand current capacity of the Center for Nursing Excellence.

The tobacco commission also awarded $398,350 to the Southside Virginia Community College Foundation to expand SVCC’s Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. With the funding, SVCC will be able to include a weekend program designed to graduate nurses over four consecutive semesters. The goal is to increase nursing student enrollment and to target a population that is not currently being reached.

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