Plans announced for 500 block of Craghead Street

The 500 block of Craghead Street is in the middle of a massive renovation, encompassing eight of the nine buildings on the block — all purchased by Rick Barker Properties over the past two years.

Barker first completed the first floor of 554 Craghead St., the former Piedmont Hardware Building, where he headquartered his company, Supply Resources, last year.

Today, Barker officially announced each building will go through design, demolition and construction phases, with two of them already through design and demolition and now under construction.

Those buildings are:

» the Hughes Building at 528-532 Craghead St., built around 1909; and

» the Venable Building at 534-536 Craghead St., built around 1904.

The former tobacco factory at 518 Craghead St., built around 1876, is going into the design phase, Barker said, while façade improvements are being made to two other buildings:

» the Elbridge’s Drug Store Building at 548 Craghead St., built around 1910; and

» the Swift & Company Building, at 550 Craghead St., built around 1910.

“Plans call for each building to be restored to the same design and construction standard established in 2015 at 554 Craghead St.,” Barker said.

Barker said the support he received for the renovation of the Piedmont Hardware Building encouraged him to take on further projects.

“The overwhelming support and encouragement that we received from the public for our work at 554 Craghead has encouraged us to dream larger and to imagine what further impact we might have by managing additional projects within Danville’s River District,” Barker said. “This is a unique opportunity to reclaim a commercial block under common ownership with a comprehensive plan for its restoration in just a few short years.”

Mark Smith of Architectural Partners — the architect on the project — said in an emailed statement that redevelopment of an entire block is rare with a single developer, and said his company is excited to be part of the project.

“The opportunity to work in collaboration with Rick Barker Properties and the city of Danville has been gratifying for our firm,” Smith said. “The desire to bring an under-utilized section of Craghead Street back to a cohesive block of businesses and residential living is another piece to Danville’s revitalization.”

Smith said the combination of public and private investment has created a “Gold Rush” affect to the River District.

“[In] my opinion, the critical mass of enthusiasm from developers, businesses, community and government are being solidified into a tangible result of buildings and public activity,” Smith said. “We saw this similar effect in Lynchburg, my hometown, approximately 10 years ago and we have been enjoying these results as a community.”

The Hughes and Venable buildings together will offer four storefronts at street level and nine apartments on the upper floors, which will be completed in early 2017. The other buildings are also planned for mixed use, with details to follow after the design stage.

There is also construction underway on the second floor of 554 Craghead St.

Barker said he expects that project to be announced shortly, but the agenda for the River District Design Commission meeting on Thursday includes an application for approval of signs for BB&T/Scott & Stringfellow — a financial services company founded in 1893 that became affiliated with BB&T in 1999 — on each side of the building at 554 Craghead St.

The application notes that the company plans to move into the building in December.

Barker said he has multiple tenant announcement planned for the remainder of this year, but is not yet prepared to release details or names of those tenant.

Parking is not expected to be an issue on this block. Barker said the Industrial Development Authority plans to create a 90-space, public parking lot between Craghead and Lynn streets, backing up to this block.

“Ultimately, we will have a vibrant block that is pedestrian friendly, with ample parking, within walking distance to the River District’s major assets,” Barker said. “We are excited to return these buildings to their former early 20th-century flory, while creating homes for new, dynamic 21st-century businesses.”

Denice Thibodeau is a reporter for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact her at or (434) 791-7985.

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