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Watch Now: CVTC blueprint for redevelopment added to Amherst comprehensive plan

View story at The News & Advance...The master plan outlining the hopeful future of the Central Virginia Training Center property in Madison Heights that recently was presented in its entirety to Amherst County officials and the public is now part of the county’s comprehensive plan for growth and development.
The Amherst County Planning Commission voted April 21 to include the master plan for the CVTC site, which in 2020 closed as a state-run medical facility on a campus of more than 300 acres near the James River, as an appendix to the comprehensive plan and amended the county’s future land use map to reflect it.

Jeremy Bryant, the county’s director of community development, said the redevelopment plan crafted by the firm HDR, Inc. and led by the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance was an extensive process that gained momentum by engaging stakeholder and civic groups, businesses and local citizens. He said the county has requested EPR, a firm working on an ongoing master plan process for much of Madison Heights, help write zoning regulations that will implement the CVTC plan.

Megan Lucas, executive director of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, said 120 acres of the CVTC property is developable and the plan telescopes a vision for the future that supports Lynchburg’s urban core that, when redeveloped, will spur more jobs and capital investment.

While many would look at the site and ponder uses such as a golf course or nursing center, the master plan in place has data and trends from market analysis done by professionals.

“None of it works if we don’t have data to back it up,” Lucas said.

Data shows the property is best suitable for a mixed-use development that has about 200,000 square feet of technology and industrial space, about 100,000 square feet of commercial space and about 120,000 square feet of neighborhood retail and the rest a variety of housing from apartments to townhomes, she said.

“The plan also gives consideration to the barns and the silos that are up there,” Lucas said. “Those are really cool features and there’s opportunity for our developer to keep those and transition into a tourist attraction in the form of a restaurant and brewery overlooking the river valley.”

Michael Bryant, the commission’s chair, said he hopes the plan will make headway in the development community.

“I really like what you put together, the package and all,” Michael Bryant said of the 214-page document.
Lucas said the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance has a marketing plan and created a list of local, regional and national developers. The major hurdle that needs to be taken care of first is the state settling $25 million in outstanding bonds on the property, which is being undertaken in the General Assembly’s budget process.

“No developer is going to be interested until the bonds are defeased,” Lucas said, referring to a process to eliminate the debt. “You know, $25 million for outstanding bonds on that property really makes it near worthless. The bonds really have to be defeased for developers to take a serious look on it.”

Lucas said officials hope the one-time surplus the state has will come through in eliminating that outstanding debt.

“We can think of no better one-time use than to pay off the debt they created,” Lucas said. “Right now, everybody is watching what happens in the state budget.”

If the debt is settled the state can more quickly declare the site surplus property and speed up the sale, she said. “There’s a lot there for any developer to take on,” Lucas said.

The plan is a guideline for a developer with market analysis in place and shows they have a strong willing partner in local government, she said.

Commissioner Michael Martineau said the property is a great spot for quality residences.
“I think we need to do whatever we can do to move this forward,” Martineau said.

David Pugh, chair of the Amherst County Board of Supervisors who also serves on the commission, said the county is working hard to pursue a productive future for the site.

“We are communication with all and every party involved,” Pugh said. “Every straw we can grab we are grabbing at.”

Lucas said redeveloping CVTC presents a great opportunity to create a twin community between Lynchburg and southern Madison Heights. “We have a real opportunity to transform the region here and Amherst County should be a part of it.”