The Highlander nearly complete in Radford
The Highlander, a $40 million boutique hotel and conference center, is expected to open next to Radford University soon.
University officials and their partners in the project broke ground in April 2021 and expect it to be completed in January 2023.
The conference hotel will have 124 rooms, including four suites, and a 4,000-square-foot conference space that will allow the university to host large-scale events it couldn’t accommodate previously. There will also be a 2,750-square-foot indoor rooftop bar and restaurant and a 1,650-square-foot rooftop terrace.
“We just think it’s going to draw a lot more people to the community,” says John F. Cox Jr., Radford University Foundation’s CEO. “We are excited about the opportunities to use the hotel for conferences, events on campus and events throughout the New River Valley. That would include events such as homecoming, commencement and, of course, sporting events. We are optimistic that large companies in the area will use the hotel, and some have started to … [inquire] about booking rooms and/or events.”
The foundation’s board, Radford University Real Estate Management LLC, which manages the foundation’s real estate assets, and the university’s leadership began discussing the vision for a hotel in 2019.
“They’re real happy with the progression of the university as an institution — they just added a college of nursing — and their athletics program is great,” says Tony Peterman, executive vice president of hotel development advisory at real estate firm JLL, one of the partners in the project. “But they’ve always seen the hotel as a challenge because they have a lot of parents, visiting professors and alumni coming, and the hotel experience in Radford didn’t match what they were trying to do with the university.”
JLL, which specializes in structuring public-private partnerships, helped guide the project and lined up stakeholders including Virginia Beach-based S.B. Ballard Construction Co. as general contractor and BLUR Workshop as architect. The Highlander will be owned and operated by a special-purpose entity created for the project for the benefit of Radford University and its foundation. Preston Hollow Community Capital helped secure financing, and Provident Resources Group acted as the borrower and owner. Aimbridge Hospitality LLC will manage the property.
“Not only is it going to be the nicest hotel in Radford, but the nicest hotel in the region,” Peterman says.