Award-winning effort in Lynchburg
February 01, 2008 1:01 AM

by Joan Tupponce

When the National Trust for Historic Preservation presented Lynchburg with a 2006 Great American Main Street Award, Ed Ramsey wasn’t surprised.

“Lynchburg is a very healthy environment,” says Ramsey, the vice president of Taylor Ramsey Corp. “It’s a comfortable place to come back to after you’ve traveled outside the United States.”

Lynchburg was one of only four cities in the country to receive the 2006 award, which recognizes exceptional accomplishments in revitalizing historic and older main street commercial districts. For the past 10 years, Lynch’s Landing, a volunteer-based economic development organization, has been helping the city revitalize its downtown. The result has been more than $60 million in private investments.

The downtown area now hums with activity. New developments include the City Market Lofts — two turn-of-the-20th-century buildings along with Lynchburg’s first self-service grocery store in the Lower Main Street area that have been turned into New York-style loft apartments — and the James River Conference Center, a facility featuring 15,000 square feet of conference and event space.

New shops and boutiques also are sprinkled along the Main Street area. One of the most popular stops is the Lynchburg Community Market, a venue for artisans, vendors and local farmers. This burgeoning area also soon will be home to a micro-brewery, Jefferson Street Brewery.

Lynchburg’s picturesque location on the banks of the James River and at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains also draws tourists. The city’s seven historic districts — Lynchburg is known as the “City of Seven Hills” — feature a wide range of Georgian and Victorian homes.

The city’s economy

The city’s history reflects its manufacturing roots. Textile mills, shoe factories and foundries played an important role in the city’s economy. While small
and midsize manufacturers still are prominent, other sectors — health services, higher education, engineering and retail — have become major local employers.
Lynchburg is also home to dozens of high-tech businesses and companies involved in the nuclear industry such as French-based Areva. The company, which now
employs about 1,400 workers, plans to add several hundred jobs in Lynchburg soon.
Centra Health tops the city’s major employers with about 4,500 workers. Liberty University with about 3,300 employees ranks second. Other major employers
include Lynchburg City Schools, the City of Lynchburg, Genworth Financial Inc. and J. Crew Outfitters.

Where to eat

When it’s time to settle in for dinner, you’ll want to check out Shoemakers at the Craddock Terry Hotel. The gourmet restaurant com­bines the historical
nature of the hotel with a chic ambience and a menu that concentrates on steak and seafood. Be sure to ask for a seat in the open-air courtyard overlooking
the river when temperatures start to warm. You may also want to try The Depot Grille on the riverfront where you’ll find seafood, pasta and steaks.

Where to stay

Looking for a place to stay? Check out the Craddock-Terry Hotel. The property was once the Craddock-Terry Shoe Corp. The boutique hotel houses guest rooms
that retain many architectural elements of the building’s original design, such as brick or stone walls and rough-hewn beams. There’s even a shoe on every
guest room door. You may also want to try the Kirkley Hotel and Conference Center, which offers amenities ranging from flat-screen televisions to high-speed
wired Internet.

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