Six Developers Receive Hard Hat Awards

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(Left to right) Brian Townsend, assistant city manager; George Stanley, Richmond, development partner with Ed Walker; David Carson, chairman of City School Board; Ed Walker, Roanoke developer; Gail Burruss, board chair of Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and John Garland, Roanoke developer and president of Spectrum Design.

(Left to right) Brian Townsend, assistant city manager; George Stanley, Richmond, development partner with Ed Walker; David Carson, chairman of City School Board; Ed Walker, Roanoke developer; Gail Burruss, board chair of Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and John Garland, Roanoke developer and president of Spectrum Design.

In celebration of National Preservation Month, the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation presented Hardhat Awards to six developers—three individuals and three institutions—who have exhibited long-term commitment to the preservation of historic resources in the Roanoke Valley and have spent millions of dollars on the revitalization of landmarks, historic neighborhoods and commercial districts.

The awards were presented at a reception at Roanoke’s historic No. 1 Firehouse, one of the revitalization projects, on Wednesday, May 25.  Recognized were John Garland,  Ed Walker, George Stanley, the City of Roanoke, the Roanoke City School Board and the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

The recognition is related to the Preservation Month theme, “Celebrating America’s Treasures.” The National Trust for Historic Preservation said this is a time “to shine a light on the people, communities and organizations that are preserving the places that matter to them.”

This new award recognizes historically sensitive rehabilitation projects and long-standing commitment and financial investment in preservation. Some of the structures, like the Patrick Henry Hotel building, were vacant for years before revitalization began. Each of the developers nominated has completed more than five projects.

John Garland has a long list of renovations, beginning with the completion of a $1.5 million project in 2000 for the offices of his company, Spectrum Design, at 10 Church Ave., originally built for the Roanoke Carriage Co. in 1900. Spectrum Design has worked as a consultant for at least a dozen buildings, including the Higher Education Center, O. Winston Link Museum, Warehouse Row Business Center, State and City Building, Community School and several downtown lofts.

Ed Walker, developer and enthusiastic music promoter, has invested over $60 million in nearly a dozen projects, using state and federal tax credits in many for the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings. Among them are the Grandin Theater, Cotton Mill, Fork in the City, Colonial Arms Building, Hancock Building, Patrick Henry Hotel and Kirk Avenue offices, commercial space and a music hall.

George Stanley, a Richmond developer/contractor, came to Roanoke in 2005, renovating the Campbell Garage Lofts and the Candy Factory and adding 25 downtown apartments.  Starting in 2007, Stanley brought his experience in renovation and adaptive reuse into a partnership with Walker for work on the Hancock Building, Cotton Mill, Fork in the City and the Patrick Henry.

In the last 20 years, the City of Roanoke has invested millions of dollars in preservation of old structures for reuse.  Some of them are the Jefferson Center, costing about $12 million; Hotel Roanoke, $42 million; the Higher Education Center, $19.2 million; No. 1 Fire Station, $154,000; Henry Street bridge, $2.8 million; the City Market building, $9.8 million, and Mountain View, $293,000.

The city has established ten National Register historic districts, as well as two local historic districts with architectural review guidelines, design districts for new construction and published a Residential Pattern Book. The city also continued an aggressive program of survey and nomination of historic districts in the City Market, Henry Street, Salem Avenue, Gainsboro, Grandin Road and Wasena, enabling historic tax credits and driving much private-sector investment in renovations. Additionally, the city has saved land with conservation easements on Carvins Cove and Mill Mountain. Assistant City Manager Brian Townsend accepted the award for Roanoke.

Roanoke School Superintendent David Carson represented the Roanoke School Board which has spent millions of dollars in renovating historic neighborhood schools, including Addison, Breckinridge, Forest Park Wasena, Morningside, Virginia Heights, Oakland, Crystal Spring and Highland Park schools. The decision to renovate rather than replace these historic schools was important because they have served as anchors to the surrounding neighborhoods for generations.

Gail Burruss accepted the award for the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority which has preserved an old Norfolk and Western office building by converting it to 87 rental units at Eight Jefferson Place, as well as restoring old homes on Miller’s Hill in the 400 block of Day Avenue with the use of tax credits. The Authority cleared asbestos from the Dumas Hotel before transferring it to Total Action Against Poverty (TAP) for renovation as the Dumas Center. The Authority also transferred the historic Strand Theater and other commercial buildings on Henry Street to the Higher Education Center for adaptive reuse as the Claude Moore Culinary Arts Institute.