Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that the first recipient of the Virginia Tourism Growth Fund (VTGF) will be the Western Front Hotel in St. Paul. The VTGF is a Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) program established to grow tourism development projects across the state.
The new boutique hotel’s name honors the rich history of St. Paul and its legacy as a 19th century railroad town. The hotel is a result of a total capital investment of more than $7.2 million and is projected to create a tax benefit of more than $69,000 in its first full year of operation. The estimated number of jobs created is 10 full-time and 15 part-time jobs the first year, with an increase to 13 full-time and 20 part-time positions by the end of year two. The hotel is scheduled to open in spring 2017.
Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Growing our tourism industry is an essential strategy for diversifying and building a new Virginia economy. It is critical that our destinations have the infrastructure in place to welcome travelers from around the world. The Western Front is a timely and attractive addition to the St. Paul community that will produce solid, good-paying jobs.”
“The development of a new product is an important way to catalyze growth in the Commonwealth’s tourism sector,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “The Western Front Hotel will help to increase tourism in an area that is already rapidly growing thanks to new attractions like the Spearhead Trails. This is a dynamic new development for St. Paul and for the Southwest region as a whole.”
“The hotel will serve a much-needed lodging demand for the region’s Spearhead Trails, which offers more than 100 miles of trails, and has been a transformative success story for St. Paul’s tourism and business communities,” said Delegate Todd E. Pillion, a strong partner and advocate for its development. “St. Paul is an outstanding example of a locality unifying behind a strong vision for its future and leveraging all its resources to make it happen.”
“The hotel will also be the local home for kayakers, canoers, fishermen, and bio-educators visiting the Clinch River,” said Senator Ben Chafin. “It will serve as an overflow from major events in other cities, such as races at Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Rhythm and Roots, host visitors traveling the Crooked Road, and also serve the business and service travelers related to nearby Dominion Virginia Power’s Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center.”
The Western Front Hotel project fills a major lodging void in St. Paul's local tourism economy and will feature 37 boutique hotel rooms including short stay suites, community gathering spaces, a rooftop bar, restaurant and a gift shop featuring locally made art and home goods. Virginia-based Creative Boutique Hotels (CBH) is the developer and owner of the project. CBH is a partnership which includes MB Contractors who will handle the construction; Hal Craddock and Architectural Partners who will handle the design plan; and Cornerstone Hospitality who will manage the interior design, product services and operations. The hotel grounds will include ATV parking and storage plus general hotel parking. St. Paul allows ATV riders to drive their ATV from the trail through town, making it very attractive. The hotel's restaurant will offer many Virginia-made products and pay homage to St. Paul's railroad history.
“The development of the hotel fulfills our main goals of the St. Paul’s tourism development and marketing efforts to preserve and promote St. Paul’s historic experiences and unique downtown, focusing on community attractiveness, while maintaining a strong sense of small town values and citizen involvement,” said Lou Wallace, St. Paul Tomorrow, Inc. “St. Paul was inspired to take responsibility for our own destiny. We are where we are by choice.”
“After visiting the area several times over the last couple of years, we entrenched ourselves in the rich history of this small Southwest Virginia town once known as the Western Front. We fell in love with the area and the community, and we wanted to tell the story through an authentic hospitality experience.” said Kimberly Christner, Cornerstone Hospitality.
The VTGF is a VTC program established to grow tourism development projects to include new or expanded facilities or venues for lodging, recreation, entertainment, or epicurean, cultural, or destination retail products or services designed to attract travelers to the Commonwealth. Both nonprofit and for-profit private-sector businesses are eligible to apply. VTGF grant awards cannot exceed 15 percent of project cost, and there is a minimum 1:1 locality match of the VTGF grant award. The project must create net new jobs, and public financing cannot exceed 30 percent of project cost.
Tourism is an instant revenue generator in Virginia. In 2014, visitors to Virginia spent $22.4 billion, which supported 217,000 jobs and contributed $1.5 billion in state and local taxes.
For more information on the Virginia Tourism Growth Fund, click here.