CHRISTIANSBURG, Va.- – We're finally starting to see some progress on a nearly empty shopping center in the New River Valley. The new owners of the longtime commercial eyesore say in the next three weeks construction workers will be tearing down some buildings to start the redevelopment process.
Walt Rector is an investor and now the owner of the space. He has developed centers like this in cities like Richmond and D.C. Where others see empty stores, Rector sees opportunity.
"We would not buy a shopping center to redevelop if it was not substantially vacant. What's important to us is finding the solution to the problem, why the shopping center did not succeed. This was very easy to see the problem," said Rector.
And the problem, Rector says is the accessibility. More entrances will be created making it easier for people to get in and out.
He hopes to have all the tenants in place by the end of next year.
"We are signing leases. We signed our first tenant that going to be right out at the road on the main entrance," said Rector.
And that store will be a Verizon wireless. He also says a grocery store will anchor the project, although he stopped short of confirming the actual name.
"It's healthy food, its natural, its fresh. "Right now, a lot of their customers are from the Christiansburg, Blacksburg area driving to that store and it's doing phenomenally well," said Rector.
Rector is also hoping to sign leases for a high-end hotel and restaurants.
Once the new shopping center is complete, the investor believes it will probably add between 300 and 500 new jobs.