PETERSBURG, Va. -- Despite Petersburg’s massive debt and looming shutdown, the state has taken a leap of faith and invested big in the city.
On Thursday, leaders made a major economic announcement and presented a $600,000 check to help private developers transform the old Ramada Inn on East Washington Street. The money came from the Commonwealth Industrial Fund, which also invested in projects in South Hill, Clarksville, and Highland County.
Trapezium Brewery, transformed recently from centuries old ice warehouse into a brewery, is an example of a CIF project.
The old hotel has been vacant since 2012, and was declared a blighted property in 2014. Developers said that over 100,000 cars pass by daily, traveling along Interstate 95.
Developers said the renovated hotel will attract interstate travelers, and create about 68 jobs, and about 120 additional jobs on the periphery. The surrounding property will have five buildings and over 26,000-square feet of retail, plus apartments
Right now, business owners and residents want to know how ideas of the future transformation exist with the current reality that the city has a $12 million budget deficit. Jobs are on the chopping block, services are being cut and the city is under investigation.
At the ModVintique shop, owner Debbie McCarter said business hasn’t been booming recently.
“It's been a little dismal for the past few months with some things going on with the government lately, some issues has arisen,” McCarter said.
McCarter opened her shop in 2015, and took a chance on Petersburg because she saw it was ripe for opportunity.
She said she is hopeful to hear about the cash injection and revitalization project, which is slated to cost $18 million.
“It would help build this area up a little more,” she said. “One business at a time if we can all hang in there.”
Although many are optimistic, the city’s money issues have some concerned.
“There's a little bit of a stretch there from $600,000 to $18 million, but I can remain hopeful and optimistic,” McCarter said.
“Every city goes through growing pains and I think that's just what's happening with Petersburg,” said Developer Chris Harrison.