Weststar gives up on I-77 property

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — A partner in the Mayberry Opry project told The Gazette on Monday that Weststar Investments has "no use" any longer for 91 acres of Carroll County land.

Even though partners Mended Wings Productions and Weststar Investments met with Carroll officials earlier this month to hammer out a timeline on the potential sale of county land near the Interstate 77-U.S. 58 interchange, Marshall Lineberry, speaking for his company and RGM Erectors, pointed out there was no guarantee that, at the end that process, the developers would be the ones who ended up with the land.

The idea to build a 600-seat, state-of-the-art music venue and an outlet mall on that property has dragged out for two years already, he added.

"We needed a decision two months ago," Lineberry said. "There's really no light at the end of the tunnel."

Lineberry indicated that the decision came after a potential tenant pulled out of the project.

The partners have to know when to use good business sense. "Time caught up with us here, and we have no choice but to move on."

But Lineberry said he did not speak for what Mended Wings Production would do. He also didn't know where the project might go, now that their efforts have ended in Carroll County.

The Mayberry Opry project would have brought investment and jobs and boosted tourism in the county, Lineberry said. Loss of the project not only impacts the companies, but the citizens of Carroll, as well.

"No one can say we didn't work hard," he said.

The Gazette contacted Gary Gray of Mended Wings through e-mail, but he responded that the company has no comment at this time.

Weststar Investments will continue to do business in Carroll County. Lineberry plans to locate a restaurant on three acres on the southeast quadrant of the Interstate 77-U.S. 58 interchange, next to United Country and Espresso Express.

A sign went up early this week on the side of U.S. 58 proclaiming a restaurant was coming soon.

Lineberry also believes that the project under consideration by the Carroll Industrial Development Authority at the Southwest Virginia Farmers' Market — eight retail shops known as the "Market Village" — is still moving forward.

Carroll Supervisors' Chairman Sam Dickson hadn't heard from the developers Tuesday, and he didn't want to comment on their decision until he'd spoken to them personally.

But Dickson believed that the process to hire real estate experts to gather proposals for the potential purchase of the county land would continue, and he didn't expect a change to the April deadline.

"I think since we've gone this far we need to continue to pursue the interest in the land, but like I've always stated, this might not be the right time," Dickson told The Gazette.

He expects county officials will find out whether that's true or not when the proposals come in. Dickson suspects the slumping economy might deter interest in a development project at Exit 14 involving the county land.

"I think this is a good litmus test," he said.