The former Superior Mills buildings in Chilhowie will soon be just a memory.
Demolition of the three buildings – that once housed a sock factory, grocery store, apartments and possibly a movie theater and other businesses in its more than 60-year history – began early Tuesday.
The site is being cleared as part of the Downtown Revitalization Project, the planning of which began seven years ago.
D.H. Griffin Companies of Bristol won the bid ($197,430) to demolish the buildings and expects to be done by Sept. 11. The building’s owners have agreed to remove the debris to a site several miles from town.
The abandoned structures cover a block of Lee Highway across from the fire department and next door to a popular local restaurant.
Property owners in the town have been informed of the planned demolition and continuing revitalization work with assurances that although disturbances will occur they will be kept to a minimum. Town Manager John Clark asked the business owners to inform any renters of the timelines and scope of the revitalization projects.
Removal of the abandoned buildings was a prerequisite for the town receiving a million dollar grant for revitalization that will begin a phased project to improve Main Street and its environs. Total funding for this project is around $1.3 million coming from the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the town of Chilhowie.
Once the buildings are gone, the streetscape portion of the revitalization project will begin by Boring Contractors of Abingdon ($488,130). This portion of the project will involve installing sidewalk, curb and gutter, decorative lighting, and storm drainage, along with removal of the concrete slab at the former Superior Mills buildings and site restoration. This work is expected to be complete by January 2019.
Milling and paving on Main Street will be done by the Virginia Department of Transportation ($60,000) and is expected to take place late this year or early in 2019.
Costs also included $50,000 for environmental assessment of the site and $16,500 for slab removal and site restoration.
Both D.H. Griffin and Boring Contractors were approved by Hurt & Proffitt of Blacksburg, the town’s engineering firm for the revitalization project.
The revitalization committee and town are working with building owners on Main Street to add attractive façades to their properties as aesthetic improvements. Clark said that the project will be bid out on July 29 with bids to be opened on Aug. 28. Work is expected to begin in September or October and be completed no later than early 2019. Each façade, he said, is allocated up to $14,000 with property owners matching that amount. The total project will be up to $280,000.
Later this year, said Clark, remaining funds in the project ($87,000) will be used to consolidate eleven overhead wires on poles to two on Main Street. These funds from DHCD will be allocated to CenturyLink for this project.
These projects, as the first phase of the Downtown Revitalization Project, are expected to be completed by early 2019. As funds become available, future phases could include further development of the revitalized area and links to other areas of town.