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The city of Danville and the Downtown Danville Association will hold a series of open houses next week to solicit additional input into the future use of the site formerly occupied by the Downtowner Motor Inn.
Open houses will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21. All three events will be held at 527 Main St., which formerly operated as River City General Store and Taylor’s Hardware.
“The open houses will be informal,” Deputy City Manager David Parrish said. “We will have renderings available that show various alternatives for use of the property.”
Parrish stressed that no decision has been made for the future use.
“These renderings are merely to help citizens visualize the possibilities,” Parrish said. “They will provide visual measurements and topography information. We want citizens to take a look and tell us what they think.”
Citizens also may register their opinion on the future use by participating in an online survey. The survey can be accessed at www.danville-va.gov and www.drfonline.org. The poll links are on the left rail of both websites.
Computers will be available during the open houses to allow citizens to participate in the online survey.
Parrish said the comments received during the open houses and the results of the online survey at the close of September will be compiled and presented publicly at a later date to City Council and the Danville Industrial Development Authority (IDA).
“We promised City Council and the IDA that we would gather all of this information to help them make an informed decision,” Parrish said.
The open house on Friday will coincide in part with the Downtown Danville Association’s Downtowner Block Party, which will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Union Street from Spring to Main streets.
The block party is free to the public and will feature food and music. A graphic facilitator will be present at the event to listen to concepts for the future use of the property as suggested by citizens and then transcribe them in a visual manner.
Demolition of the former Downtown Motor Inn started on July 6. Currently, the debris is being hauled away. Dirt will be hauled to the site over the next three to four weeks to fill in the hole that remains.
Once the dirt is in place, the demolition contractor will begin building a retaining wall that will control the slope and grade of the property. The wall will take six to eight weeks to complete.
D. H. Griffin Wrecking Co. of Greensboro, N.C., is the demolition contractor.
Because of its high visibility and the more than two decades that it has stood empty, the building has become a focal point for blight eradication and redevelopment in the River District. The Danville Industrial Development Authority purchased the property last year through a grant from the Danville Regional Foundation.
The removal of this structure is part of what IDA and foundation officials believe will be a major transformation of the district. In addition to demolition of the Downtowner, sidewalk and streetscape improvements are under way on portions of Main and Union streets.
The Downtowner Motor Inn was constructed in 1963 at the corner of Main and Union streets, which at the time was Danville’s busiest intersection. The seven-story hotel featured 116 rental rooms, including a rooftop penthouse, and 15 meeting rooms. Two eight-passenger elevators served the building. The Main Street entrance led to a restaurant, a nightclub and commercial tenant spaces. An underground area was set aside for valet parking.
Built at a cost of $1 million, the Downtowner was part of a plan to make Danville a convention center, and with its location, it was expected to spark a revitalization of downtown. The building closed in 1986.