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From prisons to the performing arts

Historic tax credits revive old buildings for 21st-century use

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Cities large and small across the commonwealth have relied on historic tax credits (HTCs) to rehabilitate downtown areas built during the nation’s agricultural and industrial heydays. These days developers are renovating properties for the high-tech and service-based 21st century economy.  The following list provides a sample of some of the projects that have been renovated or are in the process of being so:

Blacksburg Motor Co., Blacksburg
Built in 1924 as a filling station and garage, and long known as the “Doc Roberts Building,” this property is now home to the city’s Planning & Building Department.

Masonic Theater, Clifton Forge
Undergoing restoration since 2009, this centerpiece of the Alleghany Highlands’ cultural scene was built in 1905 and has hosted legends such as Count Basie, Gene Autry and The Drifters.

Former James E. Mallonee Middle School, Hopewell
This 85-year-old former school was turned into The Hopewell Lofts apartments.  The building’s 51 two- and three-bedroom apartments offer modern amenities such as terrazzo floors as well as a few old chalkboards and an auditorium available for events.

Lorton Prison, D.C. Workhouse and Reformatory, Lorton
Built in 1912, the prison site is undergoing a transformation. A regional arts center opened in 2008, and a mixed-use development called Laurel Hill is under construction.

Former Seward Luggage building, Petersburg
The former Seward Luggage building in the heart of the city’s Old Towne historic district was converted into High Street Lofts, a project of high-end townhouses and condominiums in 2005. Seward Luggage produced high-quality steamer trunks for clients around the country.

Crispus Attucks Cultural Center, Norfolk
The entertainment destination for the region’s black families since its construction and grand opening in 1919, the renovated theater reopened in 2004 as a cultural arts center that features dance and music classes, film festivals and concerts.

Hotel John Marshall, Richmond
This 16-story building, built in 1929 and once the center of the capital city’s social scene, will feature apartments and ground-floor retail space upon its expected completion in early 2012.

Patrick Henry Hotel, Roanoke
Opened in 1925 and shuttered in 2007, the property was purchased in 2009 and is being converted to apartments, offices and ground-floor retail space.

Former Western State Hospital, Staunton
Built as Virginia’s first mental hospital in 1828 and abandoned in 2003, developers began work on The Villages at Staunton in 2007. They expect the 80-acre project to take at least 20 years to complete. Twelve buildings are being transformed into a mixed-use project of retail, business, office, restaurants and residences.

The Prizery Center for the Performing Arts, South Boston
Built at the turn of the 20th century for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and renovated less than a decade ago, the three-story, 38,000-square-foot property serves as a community center, arts performance space and welcome center for tourists visiting the area.


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