Tobacco warehouses’ new life is good news for Petersburg

Posted at 1:40 PM, Jan 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-01-26 08:47:05-05

PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR) - A construction boom has been been underway in Petersburg for the last three years

That's where old tobacco warehouses, some of which have sat vacant for decades, have become prime real estate – and major assets for the city.

In fact, phase one of the old Brown and Williamson Tobacco Warehouse opened Wednesday.

The $25 million project, which is part of a larger $100 million plan that will eventually span an entire block, will boast 400 new apartments.

The warehouse revitalization project started when Fort Lee announced its expansion.

However, Petersburg Mayor Brian Moore said the city is hoping for an equal split between folks in the military, college students and people working in the private sector.

"People are taking apartments that are working down in Emporia, Richmond, Williamsburg," said Moore. "Just different places, so it’s really great to see."

The construction means more property tax revenue for the city. Restaurants and other businesses are also benefiting from the influx of new residents.

"We get a lot of people, I think it appeals to people who live downtown, to be able to walk to restaurants and shops," said said Ella Dickinson, who owns The Brickhouse Run. "We've definitely seen an increase in traffic because of the apartments.”

About a half mile away, other businesses are busy, too.

"We picked this spot specifically because of the businesses around here, including the Mayton Transfer Lofts," said Tom McCormack, the owner of Saucy’s Walk Up BBQ. "I mean all of a sudden, there were 100 plus apartments that were right around the corner."

When construction is completed, officials said the Brown and Williamson project could mean about $1.35 million in taxes for the city.