TAZEWELL, Va. — A $100,000 grant award will be used to assist with the development of a lodging facility in downtown Tazewell, near the Back of the Dragon Welcome Center, officials said Friday.
The grant was awarded by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority to the town of Tazewell's Industrial/Economic Development Authority for the purpose of converting the former Sunnyside Manor apartment complex into a12-unit short-stay lodging property with 34 beds. Plans call for the town to lease the facility to Dragon Property Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Back of the Dragon Properties.
“The Industrial/Economic Development Authority of the town of Tazewell had been looking for some time to develop a hotel or short-stay lodging facility in the downtown area,” VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher said in a press release. “The Sunnyside location is just a short distance from the Back of the Dragon Welcome Center — which VCEDA helped to finance with a $150,000 loan approved in 2019 — and seeks to capitalize on the tourist traffic generated in the region as visitors come to drive the Back of the Dragon motorcycle and sports car route.”
Belcher said funds will be used to finance the purchase of real estate to assist with the development of the project, which is located on Main Street in Tazewell.
The planned renovations to the building include a new roof, new windows, new parking lot, new plumbing and electric, new HVAC, complete exterior paint, new landscaping and a complete renovation and redesign of the interior, the VCEDA press release said.
“For a number of years, the town of Tazewell has been actively trying to recruit a hotel to locate within the town of Tazewell’s political jurisdiction,” Tazewell Town Manager Todd Day added. “We feel a hotel will, in time, attract additional entrepreneurs and businesses with intentions on capitalizing from the fast growing Back of the Dragon and the wealth it is — and continues to bring — to the town of Tazewell and the surrounding region."
Day said the Tazewell Town Council, the town's Industrial Development Authority and Economic Development Authority and the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission are working with VCEDA on the project. He said the goal is to see the hotel in operation in 2023.
“Dragon Property Holdings is very excited about the opportunity to work with the town of Tazewell and VCEDA on this project,” Jay Shott of Back of the Dragon Properties said in a prepared statement. “We believe without a good lodging facility in Tazewell, it will be hard for us to grow the economy. We also believe that this project will help spur additional lodging opportunities along with other entrepreneurs to look to make investments in our area.”
Shott said VCEDA’s assistance on the project has been valuable.
“VCEDA is without a doubt one of the top organizations that I’ve had the pleasure of working with — top to bottom, a true group of caring professionals,” Shott said. “VCEDA does an impeccable job of carrying out its mission and I can’t imagine what Southwest Virginia would be without it.”
According to Dragon Properties' plan, the project will be funded by $1,182,483 in private investment. In addition to the grant from VCEDA, funding is also being sought from other entities. The Cumberland Plateau Planning District (CPPD) also has approved a CProp grant of $200,000 for the project.
“The Cumberland Plateau Regional Opportunity Program was created as a means of reinvesting revenues received from our broadband network in local economic projects,” Jim Baldwin, CPPD executive director, added. “The board of the Cumberland Plateau Company was happy to be able to provide a $200,000 CProp grant to the town of Tazewell to support the creation of much needed lodging for the many tourists to Back of the Dragon and other local attractions. This investment should greatly enhance the town’s many downtown efforts by allowing more extended stays for those visitors.”
VCEDA estimates the project will generate 10 construction-related jobs and seven full-time jobs within one year.
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