South Boston hotel project receives another boost

Randolph HotelThe John Randolph Hotel redevelopment project received another boost this week when Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced a round of Industrial Revitalization Fund grants.

The South Boston Industrial Development Authority will receive $3 million for the revitalization project with the historic John Randolph Hotel, located in the central business district of the town of South Boston.

The plan will morph the vacant structure into a modern boutique hotel featuring 30 rooms, a restaurant and a rooftop bar, according to the governor’s release Tuesday.

The project anticipates the creation of 22 full-time and 20 part-time jobs.

The money is part of more than $24.7 million awarded throughout the state. The grants provide gap financing for construction projects aligned with local and regional economic development strategies, primarily in distressed communities, according to the governor’s news release.

“The transformation of older, vacant or blighted structures into productive, usable spaces is crucial to catalyzing economic growth to create thriving communities,” Youngkin said in a statement. “The Industrial Revitalization Fund continues to be an important resource for those redevelopment efforts, spurring regional partnerships, economic development and job growth across the commonwealth.”

The Industrial Revitalization Fund leverages local and private resources to achieve market-driven redevelopment of vacant and deteriorated industrial and commercial properties, according to the release.

The South Boston Industrial Development Authority at its August meeting unanimously approved a resolution to apply for the $3 million.

The South Boston Town Council also gave its approval to apply for the funding at its Aug. 8 meeting.

Of the $3 million, $750,000 will be a “true grant” that the redevelopers will not have to pay back to the South Boston IDA, while $2.25 million will be a loan that the redevelopers will have to pay back to the IDA gradually, South Boston Town Manager Tom Raab explained in August. The IDA then can reinvest those funds in other local economic development ventures.

The grant program is targeted toward vacant non-residential structures whose poor condition creates physical and economic blight to the surrounding area in which the structure is located.

South Boston’s grant was the third largest awarded Tuesday behind a project in Winchester for $4.5 million and Danville’s iconic White Mill redevelopment, which received $5 million.

The governor said projects were reviewed and evaluated competitively, with an emphasis on those with a high level of blight, identification of impediments to economic development efforts, alignment with regional or local strategies, availability of matching resources, the level of community distress where the property is located and an identified and feasible end use.

“These funded projects are transforming deteriorated structures that impede future economic development efforts into small businesses, tourism destinations, and sources of community pride,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “Through IRF grants, we are able to make investments in both Virginia’s infrastructure and vibrancy by supporting impactful projects, encouraging strategic collaborations, and fostering economic development efforts across the commonwealth.”

The 22 awarded projects will create over 600 jobs and leverage an additional $72.8 million in public and private investment, according to the news release.

Julian and Karie Brittano, the redevelopers of the former John Randolph Hotel in downtown South Boston, recently announced Choice Hotels as the management partner for their boutique hotel “The Rook of South Boston.”

The power couple’s announcement of the partnership with Choice Hotels was the final piece of the puzzle in the redevelopment project. In April, The Brittano Group, Inc. first announced a partnership with the town of South Boston to redevelop the former John Randolph Hotel at 327 Main St.

The ball got rolling on the John Randolph Hotel redevelopment project when Raab met with the Brittanos in September 2021, following an introduction by Brian Jackson, former director of workforce training for the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. Prior to that, the South Boston IDA had purchased the property in 2011. More than $650,000 in grant funds had been received for the project: a $600,000 Virginia Tobacco Commission Economic Development grant, and a $50,000 Virginia Brownfields Assistance Grant to conduct environmental studies and address any environmental hazards at the hotel.

From The Gazette-Virginian