The Virginia Department of General Services recently declared the Central Virginia Training Center property in Amherst County as surplus, an expected step for efforts to redevelop the 380-acre campus near the James River.
CVTC, a state-owned former center for people with disabilities on Colony Road in Madison Heights, closed in 2020. At its peak, the center with more than a century of history was the county’s largest employer.
The center was operated as part of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. By marking the property as surplus, the Economic Development Authority of Amherst County and/or Amherst County’s government now have less than 180 days to submit a proposal to purchase the property from the state if they so choose.
After the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services vacated the property following the 2020 closure, the land was transitioned to the Department of General Services for the purpose of being declared surplus and prepared for sale.
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If the EDA or county decides to submit a proposal and it is viable and of benefit to the commonwealth, then the Department of General Services will negotiate with them for the sale of the property at the fair market value, according to a news release from the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.
If the EDA or Amherst County choose not to submit a proposal or the proposal is not deemed viable by the end of the 180-day period, then the property will be offered for public sale.
Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg, said efforts to redevelop the CVTC site are at full speed, and he was honored last year to be part of acquiring $25 million to pay off the outstanding property bonds 14 years ahead of schedule. He said he is pleased the property is now labeled as surplus so stakeholders can move forward with determining the best developer of the site.
“A big thanks to the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance and Amherst County for their positive partnership in these efforts,” Newman said in the release.
The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, in partnership with Amherst County and the county’s EDA, has already begun marketing the site to potential developers to speed the potential redevelopment of the property, an effort guided by an in-depth master redevelopment plan.
The plan, first presented to the Amherst County Board of Supervisors in April 2022, maps out a range of mixed-use housing and commercial uses for the property, as well as reuse of some buildings for economic development purposes, and demolition of many older buildings on site.
Data in the 214-page master plan shows the property is best suited for a mixed-use development that has about 200,000 square feet of technology and industrial space, about 100,000 square feet of commercial space and about 120,000 square feet of neighborhood retail and the rest a variety of housing from apartments to townhomes.
A village square area, an amphitheater and playground complex, a destination restaurant, boutique hotel, a senior living facility and a monument with a reclaimed cupola from the CVTC’s Bradford building, one of the most recognizable structures on the property, are among features envisioned.
The plan can be viewed online at https://trainingcentermasterplan.com/.
“The redevelopment of CVTC is crucial to Amherst County and the region’s economy,” Andrew Proctor, chair of the EDA, said in the release. “We are looking for a qualified and experienced developer who can breathe new life back into the CVTC property at its highest and best use and help restore the $87 million in annual economic activity and 1,600 jobs we lost when CVTC closed.”
According to a study done in October 2013, a year after former Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the closure of CVTC and three other of Virginia’s training centers over a 10-year period, CVTC at one time provided 1,639 full-time jobs, $53 million in labor income, $87 million in overall economic activity and state and local tax revenue of $3 million.
Tom Martin, chair of the Amherst County Board of Supervisors, said the county and Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance are working to find a developer to implement the CVTC master plan to fulfill its highest and best use.
“Amherst County is eager to bring CVTC back to life,” Martin said.
Megan Lucas, CEO and chief economic development officer of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, in the release said the surplus declaration is an important next step in the long process of visioning a future for the CVTC campus.
“We will support Amherst County and work to ensure the redevelopment of this unique site will become a boon to the entire Lynchburg region,” Lucas said.