Carroll tourism office moves to new home

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Office moves into Market Village

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter



HILLSVILLE — First thing Monday morning, the Market Village retail center began receiving office furniture from its first tenant — the Blue Ridge Plateau Visitors Center.
Leaving behind one of the few physical reminders of the failed economic development deal with AmerLink log homes, the tourism center just off Interstate 77’s Exit 14 will start fresh in new — and more convenient — digs.
Everyone involved with the change in location believes that it will benefit all parties. The office is staffed by Carroll County employees.
They joined trustees from the New River Valley Regional Jail to start the move with the bulkiest and heaviest items early Monday morning.
They hefted tall oak storage cabinets up a two-flight staircase from the tourism office basement in the former model home and eased them the rest of the way on a handcart to a waiting truck.
From there, the movers only had to take office equipment to the new strip mall across the parking lot, built by Weststar Investments.
The short move could make a world of difference in terms of visitation, though, said Donnie Turner, Carroll’s director of tourism.
“We’ll probably get a lot more visitors,” he noted. “It’s a better location — we’ll be more visible.”
The goal is to reopen the visitors center today, Wednesday, or Thursday.
“Hopefully, with us and the Market Village, we’ll create an atmosphere where a lot of good tourism-related businesses will open,” Turner added.
The new Market Village has several advantages over the office in the model home, such as being closer to the road and easier to find, offering better accessibility without a large flight of steps to climb and having restrooms readily available.
Putting the visitors center next to retail shops might increase traffic, too.
Weststar Investments owner Marshall Lineberry said he’s extremely happy that he and the Industrial Development Authority and the Carroll Board of Supervisors were able to work together and find a new home for the visitors center.
With the tourism center setting up, he believes that more activity will follow soon in the Market Village. “It’s going to be an anchor for the strip mall.”
“I’m working with two possible tenants right now,” Lineberry said.
Of the two prospects, there’s a good possibility a new craft shop will decide to locate there. Lineberry said he can have the space ready for tenants in a matter of days.
Carroll officials recently washed their hands of the failed deal that said AmerLink was to create 200 jobs in the county at a saw mill and related operations.
County officials inked an agreement through the federal bankruptcy court that would settle the questions of the model home center at the farmers market and Carroll County Industrial Park land held by sister company Pro-Form, originally given to the log home company as an incentive.
The agreement gave the bankruptcy trustee until early 2012 to find a new tenant for the sales center. The trustee has until almost the end of 2012 to find a buyer for the 32 acres of land in the industrial park. Carroll County stands to collect $700,000 from the proceeds.
If the trustee fails to accomplish these things, both properties will revert to county ownership.
Originally, AmerLink hoped to reorganize and reopen with the bankruptcy court’s blessing, but the court pulled the plug on that idea and ordered the company dissolved to repay its creditors.