2020Vision

With its SOVA Innovation Hub, several residential developments and the John Randolph Hotel renovation, opportunities are expanding in South Boston in 2020.

Construction has already started on the SOVA Innovation Hub, a $5 million project resulting from a partnership between Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation and Microsoft, which will be designed to encourage economic opportunities in the area.

In the meantime, the town is gearing up with other initiatives that may provide housing and recreational opportunities for potential businesses and entrepreneurs looking to call South Boston home in the coming years, including 2020.

In recent years, the town has seen the development of at least two residential projects, including Imperial Lofts and New Brick Historical Lofts, Imperial Lofts once the home of Tultex, and New Brick Historical Lofts once a tobacco warehouse.

The former John Randolph Hotel continues to undergo renovation, with the ultimate goal being the creation of 27 residential units, a restaurant and rooftop bar.

Recreation also is a tool to help bring residents and visitors to downtown South Boston, with the town receiving an $876,000 grant in late 2019 to help build a boat landing at the southern entrance into downtown South Boston.

Preliminary engineering for the Greene’s Crossing Boat Landing should be complete by July 2020 with a proposed completion date in mid-2021, according to town manager Tom Raab.

Residential options in South Boston continue to move forward in 2020 with the ongoing Poplar Creek Homes project, which got a $700,000 Community Block Grant award in 2019 from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to help build rental, veteran and special needs housing with accessibility features in the Poplar Creek area.

The town is working with the Southside Outreach Group on the project, with the most urgent need being rental housing.

“There are a lot of folks who can’t afford to be a homeowner,” said Southside Outreach Group Executive Director Earl Howerton.

The initial proposal for Poplar Creek Homes projects involves building five to 10 two-story, three bedroom single-family houses for first time homebuyers, and plans also include building 10 to 15 two-story duplexes with two-three bedrooms for rental, all on Poplar Creek Street.

Amenities include washer/dryers and dishwashers, and the project is income restricted, and a community center housing a 24-hour day care facility is planned for the second phase of the project, which may include construction of up to 10 additional units.

Another big project for 2020 is a $1 million milling and repaving of North Main Street, including the stretch of roadway from near the South Boston Post Office to North Hamilton.

In July, town council adopted an amendment to its budget to accommodate the work on North Main Street, which includes $1 million from VDOT Good Repair Funds for the project.

South Boston, in recovering from damages due to Hurricane Florence, was awarded $9,000 in 2019 in post-disaster recovery funds to reimburse South Boston for expenses related to recovery from Hurricane Florence.

It still awaits word on an application for post-disaster recovery funds to reimburse the town for damages related to recovery from Tropical Storm Michael.

The town also awaits word on grant requests totaling almost $4 million, the largest being a $2,657,891 hazardous mitigation grant application to help move businesses out of the Riverdale flood plain.

Federal Emergency Management Agency would cover 75% of the grant, Virginia Department of Emergency Management 20% and the town 5%, according to Raab.

Raab noted that if the grant were received, businesses in the Riverdale flood plain would have the option of moving out of the flood plain or staying.