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Extensive work and marketing has gone into the redevelopment of the old Washington Mills site in Fries, and on Feb. 1, requests for proposals were sent throughout the country.
The requests mandate that a prospective developer be willing to complete at least three of the projects on the 13.3-acre site, and invest a minimum $6 million.
We urge the project's management team — comprised of Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority, the Town of Fries and Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development — to seriously consider all proposals.
At the exclusive meeting held for locals last Thursday night, Craig Wilson of K.W. Poore & Associates noted that any proposals under the $6 million mark would not be accepted, in hopes that one developer would take on the entire project. (A daunting task, considering the hotel alone is expected to cost $7.6 million.)
Fries resident Tom Guy made a good point in saying that, if someone is willing to spend $1.5 million on a project at the site, for example, it should not be thrown away.
While we understand that having one developer do the entire project would be easier, it simply may not be possible in these tough economic times.
Grayson Supervisors' Chairman Mike Maynard expressed that he would be willing to match developers together to complete the entire project.
The problem, however, is that anyone who would want to invest in one project or another in the property may not send in a proposal, because of the $6 million minimum. (Only two proposed projects on the site are more than $6 million each — the hotel and a simulated “white water experience” in the New River.)
While we commend the management team for its hard work and dedication towards revitalizing the town, we think they should start small and accept all proposals — then do the match-making to fill the entire site up.