Former Martinsville factory could become senior living community

Community with 52 units could be ready in 2021

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Cellphone video shows what the American of Martinsville factory looked like in 2014 as it was being destroyed by a fire.

On Friday, the factory was still as it was after that fire - a massive pile of bricks and twisted metal.

Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki said city officials have been discussing the factory for about six months with a real estate development company called the Landmark Group.

"I think they went out and look at that site (and) liked what they saw. Although, it's kind of hard to imagine that you would like seeing what's there," Towarnicki said.

At Tuesday's Martinsville City Council meeting, the company presented council members with plans to turn the factory into a senior living complex.

There's still a lot that has to be done, though, in order for the company to move forward with its plan.

The goal is to apply for a state grant in October.

If that's approved, another, different state grant will be applied for in March 2020.

If that's approved, then construction would likely begin in late 2020 or early 2021.

"It cleans up the site, it plugs a pretty substantial investment back into the community because we're talking about 52 units, senior living-type units. The investment is somewhere around $8 million, so that's a very substantial investment coming back into the community," Towarnicki said about the benefits the development could provide. "There's jobs that would be created with this because they're talking about an on-site maintenance people and property manager and that type of thing."

The executive director of the Southern Area Agency on Aging, Teresa Fontaine, said there is a need for this.

"We have a couple of housing opportunities for seniors in our local area and I have heard that there are times when they have a waiting list," Fontaine said.

She said the agency will work with the city and the developer if asked to make sure whatever is built will be as beneficial for seniors as possible.

"As an agency that provides services, things like Meals on Wheels, transportation, and home care services, when we have seniors that live in a group, if you will, it's always easier to plan and accommodate their needs," Fontaine said.

The Landmark Group previously developed the Martinsville Novelty building into loft apartments, which have been very popular according to Towarnicki.