Galax Leadership Joins Together in Search for a Developer for the Former Vaughan Furniture Factory Sponsored
The City of Galax and the Vaughan Restoration Group have come together to see the vacant Vaughan Furniture Factory revitalized as an adaptive mixed-use complex. At 408,000 square feet across eleven contiguous building components dating from 1923 to 1995, the complex represents a world of opportunity for a developer to create a signature project in Galax. Located in Southwest Virginia, Galax is celebrated as the birthplace of Old Time Mountain Music. David Vaughan of the Vaughan family recently stated, “The vision for this property is a cornerstone for the community. A way to bridge between the past and the future.”
Vaughan Furniture operated from 1923 until the final factory was shuttered in 2015. The Vaughan Furniture Factory, located on East Stuart Drive (U.S. 58/221), was the company’s first facility. The older components of the complex were constructed of brick with heavy post and beam interior supports and numerous windows typical of older factory buildings. The newest component is an engineered 2-story steel building with a 51,000-square foot open floor plan. The mix of uses that has been recommended for this potentially game-changing project include a hotel and conference center, performance space, apartments, retail, restaurant, indoor recreation, and business incubator.
Galax’s music traditions are highlighted in weekly radio broadcasts from the Rex Theater, as home to the longest running music festival in America, The Old Fiddler’s Convention, and as a key stop on The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Galax is also home to the Virginia State BBQ Championship, Smoke on the Mountain. The southern terminus of New River Trail State Park is directly across East Stuart Drive from the complex. Galax has a quintessential small downtown anchored by the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts. The town is ¼ hour from I-77 and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Summit Design & Engineering Services was recently tasked with compiling a feasibility study for the project. Building conditions were examined, potential uses delineated, designs put forward, and the cost of adaptive reuse estimated with an eye on what was workable locally and within the larger tourism market. Projected project finances show a positive cash flow, even with a significant project cost of approximately $92.5 million ($230/square foot), mainly because of the grants, tax credits, and other incentives the project could garner.
The complex’s Part 1 Application for Historic Tax Credits has already been approved. It is eligible for Opportunity Zone, Enterprise Zone, and New Markets Tax Credit financing. The project is also eligible for several Virginia grants including a Virginia Tobacco Commission grant, a State Enterprise Zone Real Property Investment Grant, and an Industrial Revitalization Fund grant/loan. Galax extends a Capital Investment grant to key projects and provides a 100% real estate tax abatement for 12 years associated with major improvements to historic properties. The building has a clean Phase II Environmental Assessment.
The new non-profit Galax Development Corporation has posted a Request for Qualifications with Statements of Qualification from developers due by October 22, 2021. Those developers/development teams deemed qualified will be invited to submit a firm proposal for the redevelopment of the complex. The goal is to have a master development agreement in place by March 31, 2022 with construction beginning by September 1, 2022 and anticipated to take three to four years.